IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.
EVENT ENDED
Last updated

State of the Union highlights and analysis: Biden touts economic wins, spars with Republicans

Biden addressed Congress in a joint session for the first time since the GOP took control of the House.

Highlights from Biden's State of the Union address


Key takeaways: Biden boasts about his wins and lays out 2024 themes

President Joe Biden boasted about his first two years and road-tested populist re-election themes, promising to “finish the job” on what he dubbed a “blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America.”

Biden hasn’t formally announced his bid for re-election, but it is widely expected, and some lawmakers in the audience saw the speech as something of a soft launch.

Read four key takeaways from Biden’s speech here.

Biden's State of the Union speech: That's all folks

That's all, folks! During Biden's nearly 73-minute speech, he said the word “folks," a known favorite of his, at least 21 times.

“Folks, the story of America is a story of progress and resilience,” he said early in his remarks. “Of always moving forward. Of never, ever giving up. It’s a story unique among our nations. We’re the only country that’s emerged from every crisis we’ve ever entered stronger than we got into it. Look, folks, that’s what we’re doing again."

McCarthy applauds Biden, shushes GOP colleagues who heckled speech

In a show of bipartisanship after their first big meeting together, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., applauded at least 40 times during Biden’s remarks, including joining 16 standing ovations during the substance of the speech (among them several for Biden's remarks about Tyre Nichols).

McCarthy also admonished his GOP colleagues who heckled Biden by either shushing them or mouthing “no” at least four times.

But McCarthy didn’t always keep a poker face: He shook his head as Biden spoke about the debt limit, accused the GOP of wanting to sunset Medicare and Social Security every five years and called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Biden says his economic agenda is working. The public is skeptical.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden argued Tuesday that his economic plan is working despite predictions of a recession by economists, a looming battle over paying the country’s debt and a nation that feels like it’s on shaky economic footing.

The economy played a prominent role in Biden’s State of the Union address with a message largely targeted at lower- and middle-income Americans as he made the case for boosting manufacturing jobs and buying more products made in America. He proposed raising taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans to help fund programs to lower health care and child care costs.

Biden was making the case for his administration’s handling of the economy to a largely skeptical audience. After having been battered by decades-high inflation for more than a year, consumer sentiment remains low by historic norms, and two-thirds of consumers said they expected an economic downturn this year, according to the University of Michigan’s latest consumer sentiment survey.

Read the full story here.

Fact-check: Sanders on the number of Americans dying from drug overdoses

“As a mom, my heart breaks for every parent who has lost a son or daughter to addiction. 100,000 Americans a year now killed from drug overdoses, largely from fentanyl pouring across our southern border,” Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in the GOP rebuttal to Biden's speech.

Her numbers are correct, although U.S. drug overdoses increased at a faster pace under her former boss, President Donald Trump.

The latest government figures estimated that 107,622 people died from drug overdoses in 2021, an increase of 15% from the previous year. That rate was half the pace during Trump’s final year in office, when overdose deaths rose by 30% to 93,655 deaths from 2019. The majority of the overdose deaths under Trump and Biden were caused by fentanyl.

Comer criticizes Santos for 'seeking the limelight' with State of the Union attendance

Isabelle Schmeler

Zoë Richards and Isabelle Schmeler

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., criticized Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., over his attendance as he faces a series of investigations.

“Certainly the fact that he showed up to the State of the Union was questionable," Comer told NBC News' Chuck Todd and Kristen Welker.

The remark came in response to a question about a tense exchange between Santos and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, after which Romney suggested that Santos should have been seated "in the back row" Tuesday night.

Comer said he was told Santos was seen sitting on the aisle where he could be seen and drawn attention.

"The fact that he was wanting to be in the center of the limelight, it just makes no sense," Comer said. "He's crossed the line, obviously, and he certainly doesn't speak for the Republican Party, and we're very disappointed in George Santos."

AOC praises Biden remarks on police reform

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., praised Biden for his remarks about police reform, saying it was "encouraging" and quite a difference from his speech last year.

"I was surprised by the president’s remarks and his focus on reform, were focused on justice," she said in an interview on MSNBC.

Ocasio-Cortez said his comments were a "long way from just a year ago, where it was really just about how much more money can we pile into these local departments in order to fix this issue."

"I also think it’s an acknowledgment of the fact that this isn’t really connected to funding much at all in terms of how we actually lower these instances of horrific violence in communities," she added. "And so, I thought it was encouraging."

Ocasio-Cortez added that people haven't heard a president do that in such a straightforward way in a long time or "ever in modern politics."

Rep. Jimmy Gomez posts photo of his infant son FaceTtiming with Biden as he left the chamber

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., tweeted a photo Tuesday night of his son, Hodge, FaceTiming with Biden as he spoke with lawmakers and their guests after his address.

"FaceTimed with @POTUS. Goodnight! #HeyHodge #SOTU," tweeted Gomez, who was seen during the marathon votes for speaker last month carrying his infant son on the House floor.

Gomez also recently helped launch the Congressional Dads Caucus.

GOP Rep. LaMalfa criticizes heckling from fellow Republicans

Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif., said he wasn't a fan of the heckling some of his fellow Republicans lobbed at Biden.

“You should never do that sort of stuff," he said. "When he did come out and say the bit about we’re trying to cut Social Security, that drew a round of boos, and I thought that was pretty fair. But the catcalling I didn’t really like."

"I mean, I understand the frustration," LaMalfa said. "But it really isn’t how — in order to conduct the business of the institution — how we should do it.”

'They're up there watching': Biden and Rep. Dingell share a moment over lost loved ones

Rose Horowitch

As Biden finished his speech and left the chamber, he shared a tender moment with Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., as they reflected on their late family members.

"I stayed out of respect. You know, it's the anniversary of John's death," Dingell said, referring to her late husband, Rep. John Dingell, also D-Mich., who served more than 59 years in Congress. He died two years ago.

Biden and Dingell embraced as he shared that his son Beau's birthday was two days ago. Beau Biden died from cancer in 2015.

"They're up there watching," Dingell said, to which Biden replied: "I believe it."

Fact-check: Did the national debt increase by 25% under Trump?

“Nearly 25% of the entire national debt that took over 200 years to accumulate was added by just one administration alone, the last one. They’re the facts. Check it out,” Biden said.

While his numbers were correct, the president omitted some key facts, particularly how a large amount of the nation’s spending is mandatory because of programs lawmakers created decades ago.

Under Trump, the federal government added $7.3 trillion to the debt, about a quarter of the nation’s $31.4 trillion national debt. Some of that came from significant non-mandatory government spending during the coronavirus pandemic, by way of programs passed in Congress with bipartisan support, while the tax cut Republicans pushed through Congress before Covid also contributed to the increase.

But because much of the additional debt came from mandatory spending on programs like Social Security and Medicare, the increase extends well beyond Trump.

Trump unleashes attacks on Biden in State of the Union response

Former President Donald Trump uncorked a gusher of attacks on President Joe Biden on Tuesday, offering a bleak rebuke to Biden’s State of the Union message.  

In a recorded video, Trump, a 2024 GOP presidential candidate, trotted out what he called “the real state of the union” — a summary of the anti-Biden messaging he has honed since he launched his bid for the White House late last year. 

Trump accused Biden and “the radical Democrats” of failing on immigration and crime and took shots at the president’s handling of transgender issues and the U.S. involvement in the war in Ukraine.

Read the full story here.

Sanders says Biden and Democrats 'have failed' America with their 'woke fantasies'

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has kicked off her response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address — a speech she began by ripping the president for having "failed you."

“Biden and the Democrats have failed you; they know it and you know it," Sanders said, listing inflation, violent crime, the border with Mexico and threats from China as major problems she said the administration has not dealt with.

Sanders also leaned heavily on culture war themes, excoriating Biden and the left for "woke fantasies." She painted a bleak picture of false idols, money on fire and children being taught "to hate one another."

Highlighting overdose deaths, Biden calls for crackdown on fentanyl

Fentanyl is killing more than 70,000 Americans a year, Biden said — a figure supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2021 estimates.

The synthetic opioid is up to 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids (excluding methadone) increased 97-fold in the U.S. from 1999 to 2021, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Biden called for increased inspection of cargo at the border and of packages shipped by mail, in collaboration with couriers like FedEx. He also suggested stronger penalties for fentanyl trafficking.

In addition, Biden pointed to progress already made: The omnibus funding bill eliminated a requirement that providers obtain special waivers to prescribe medications for opioid use disorder.

Biden highlighted the story of a New Hampshire father named Doug whose daughter, Courtney, died of a fentanyl overdose at age 20. Doug was in the audience.

"Their family has turned pain to purpose, working to end the stigma and change laws," Biden said.

Maxine Waters reacts to Republicans who heckled Biden: ‘Uncouth people’

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said the Republicans who heckled Biden “don’t even matter,” calling them “uncouth people with little or no respect.”

“We know that they have people who are totally disrespectful of anything and everybody,” she said of Republicans. “And so he didn’t take the bait, and his speech was so strong. It was so promising.”

Returning to the Republican hecklers, she added: “Nobody worries about them. They don’t count.”

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said the heckling was "unbecoming of this body" noting that "the whole world watches the State of the Union speech."

"I just think the whole world saw us in a dim light, as opposed to a really bright light of a democracy," Cleaver said. "It was just it was not helpful."

Romney says Santos is a 'sick puppy' and 'he should be sitting in the back row and being quiet'

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Following what appeared to be a tense exchange before Biden's speech between Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, the senator spoke to reporters afterward about the embattled congressman.

"He’s a sick puppy. He shouldn’t have been there," Romney said.

"Given the fact that he’s under ethics investigation, he should be sitting in the back row and being quiet instead of parading in front of the president," Romney added.

Santos positioned himself in the middle aisle of the House chamber, where many lawmakers sit so they can greet the president as he comes in.

After the speech concluded, Santos tweeted a dig at Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.

Biden schmoozes with Democrats in the chamber after speech

As Biden finished his speech, many Republicans quickly made their way to the back exits. The president stayed behind and continued shaking hands and chatting with Democrats, including Reps. Ruben Gallego of Arizona, Maxine Waters of California and Gregory Meeks of New York. 

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., jokingly yelled over to progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, “You wrote the whole speech!” Bowman then walked up to the well to shout to Biden: “Mr. President, that was awesome!"

Graphic: Biden's 2023 address is the 8th-longest since 1964

Biden's State of the Union speech concludes after 72 minutes

Katie Primm

Biden's speech ended at 10:21 p.m. ET, meaning it lasted over one hour and 12 minutes.

This year's address was longer than last year's, which was just over an hour, but it did not crack the list of the five longest State of the Union speeches ever. Bill Clinton's 2000 address holds the record at nearly 1 hour and 29 minutes.

Biden closes with 2020 campaign message, says 'the state of the union is strong'

Nodding to the campaign message he relied on during his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden wrapped up his speech by once again invoking the “soul” of the nation.

“We meet tonight at an inflection point. 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,” Biden said. “We are not bystanders to history. We are not powerless before the forces that confront us. It is within our power, of We the People. We are facing the test of our time, and the time for choosing is at hand.

“We must be the nation we have always been at our best. Optimistic. Hopeful. Forward-looking,” Biden continued. “A nation that embraces light over darkness, hope over fear, unity over division. Stability over chaos.”

“We must see each other not as enemies, but as fellow Americans,” he said, adding that “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.”

Here's what happened when a GOP congressman shouted, 'You lie!'

Amanda TerkelPolitics Managing Editor

Tonight's State of the Union has had a number of outbursts from Republicans, one from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who yelled, "Liar!"

When Biden spoke about immigration, some Republicans yelled, “Secure the border!” And as Biden talked about international affairs, Greene shouted, “China spied on us!”

Such outbursts during presidential speeches to Congress are relatively rare. Perhaps the most famous one happened in 2009, when Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., shouted, "You lie!" during then-President Barack Obama's health care speech.

The House then voted 240 to 179 to rebuke Wilson, saying he committed a "breach of decorum and degraded the proceedings of the joint session, to the discredit of the House.” Seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the resolution, while 12 Democrats opposed.

Wilson also apologized to Obama for his outburst.

It's not clear whether the GOP lawmakers at tonight's speech will face any similar criticism, although House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tried to shush his Republican members several times.

Biden decries the 'big lie' as he talks about Jan. 6 and attack on Paul Pelosi

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

The president said "democracy has been threatened and attacked, put at risk" in the last few years, put to the test on Jan. 6, 2021, in the very room where he was speaking.

"Then, just a few months ago, unhinged by the big lie, an assailant unleashed political violence in the home of the then-speaker of this House of Representatives using the very same language that insurrectionists who stalked these halls chanted on Jan. 6," he said.

He continued: "Tonight in this chamber is the man who bears the scars of that brutal attack but is as tough and strong and as resilient as they get. My friend, Paul Pelosi."

Pelosi, a guest of the first lady, stood up in the gallery, wearing a hat that he has worn in public since the brutal attack on him last year. His wife, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, stood up and applauded her husband and waved to him.

Biden said there is "no place for political violence in America."


Fact-check: Biden says some Republicans want to 'sunset' Medicare and Social Security

“Some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset — I’m not saying it’s a majority,” Biden said Tuesday, prompting boos from many Republicans. “Anybody who doubts it, I’ll give you a copy of the proposal.”

While a proposal may exist, GOP lawmakers are not on board with it.

Biden appeared to be referring Sen. Rick Scott’s “An 11 Point Plan to Rescue America,” which suggested sunsetting all federal legislation in five years. “If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again,” the document reads. To sunset a law means to create an automatic expiration date for that program or agency, one that can be renewed only with new legislation.

Republicans have distanced themselves from this aspect of Scott’s plan, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., explicitly rejecting it.

Scott, R-Fla., released his plan a year ago as chair of the Senate GOP campaign arm but later said he didn’t want to end those programs, just reform them. Still, he’s running for re-election, and the plan is on his campaign website.

Biden speaks about China but doesn't directly mention spy balloon

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Biden addressed the threat China poses to America but did not explicitly mention the alleged surveillance balloon the U.S. military shot down over the weekend.

The president said investing in American innovation is important to compete with China, which he said is intent on dominating industries that define the future.

"Today, we’re in the strongest position in decades to compete with China or anyone else in the world," he said. "I am committed to work with China where we can advance American interests and benefit the world."

He added: "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."


Bipartisan recognition for the parents of Tyre Nichols

The full chamber stood to applaud when Biden acknowledged the parents of Tyre Nichols, who are seated in the gallery by first lady Jill Biden. 

Rodney Wells and RowVaughn Wells, parents of Tyre Nichols, are applauded by Brandon Tsay, hero of the Monterey, California, shooting, Irish singer-songwriter Bono and Paul Pelosi, husband of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), during 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. The speech marks Biden's first address to the new Republican-controlled House.
Rodney Wells and RowVaughn Wells, the stepfather and mother of Tyre Nichols, are applauded during President Joe Biden's State of the Union address Tuesday.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Several Republicans stood to clap when Biden spoke about making sure police are held accountable, including Reps. Marcus Molinaro and Nicholas LaLota of New York. 

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., was quick to his feet as Biden said, “Something good must come from this.” 

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania appears to be the Republican who has stood to clap the most during Biden’s speech. He stood to applaud when Biden called for banning so-called assault weapons, joining Democrats in a standing ovation. 

As states attack LGBTQ rights, Biden calls for additional protections

Rose Horowitch

The president urged Congress to pass the Equality Act to allow LGBTQ Americans to live with “safety and dignity," specifically calling for protections for transgender young people.

Transgender people have become targeted by conservatives across the country, with more than 100 bills targeting LGBTQ rights having been filed in 22 state legislatures so far this year. Advocates expect this year will break the record for anti-LGBTQ legislation introduced in statehouses.

In the past three years, 18 states have banned transgender student-athletes from competing on school sports teams that align with their gender identities instead of the sexes they were assigned at birth, according to the Movement Advancement Project, an LGBTQ rights think tank. Four states have also restricted gender-affirming medical care for minors, although federal judges have blocked some of the bans from taking effect. 

'We've broken the Covid grip': Biden heralds coming end of public health emergency

“While virus is not gone, thanks to the resilience of the American people and the ingenuity of medicine, we’ve broken the Covid grip on us,” Biden said.

The White House announced Jan. 30 that it will let the national and public health emergencies related to the pandemic expire May 11.

Biden highlighted the plan Tuesday, saying: "We’ve saved millions of lives and opened our country back up. And soon we’ll end the public health emergency."

Around 524 people are dying of Covid a day on average, according to NBC News' tally. That's far lower than last winter but still higher than the pandemic low in July 2021, when fewer than 200 people died per day on average.

Once the emergency ends, so will some federal rules that eased consumer costs — for example, the requirement that insurance companies cover eight at-home Covid tests a month. 

Biden said the U.S. must continue to monitor variants and provide federal funding for vaccines and treatments.

"We will remember the toll and pain that's never going to go away," he added. "More than a million Americans lost their lives to Covid. A million. Families grieving. Children orphaned. Empty chairs at the dining room table constantly reminding you that she used to sit there."

‘Ban assault weapons now,' Biden implores, praising Monterey Park hero

Biden praised the hero who disarmed a mass shooter at a packed dance call in Monterey Park., Calif., last month, ending by urging lawmakers to "ban assault weapons now."

Drawing attention to Brandon Tsay, 26, who attended Tuesday’s speech as a guest of the president, Biden described his heroics during the shooting.

“Two weeks ago, during Lunar New Year celebrations, he heard the studio’s front door close and saw a man pointing a gun at him,” Biden said. “He thought he was going to die, but then he thought about the people inside.

“In that instant, he found the courage to act and wrestled the semi-automatic pistol away from a gunman who had already killed 11 people at another dance studio,” Biden continued. “He saved lives. It’s time we do the same as well.”

Last month, 11 people died after a gunman opened fire at a packed dance hall. Tsay, whose family owned the dance hall, wrestled the gun away from the shooter, preventing further bloodshed.

Lawmaker overheard Romney tell Santos that he doesn't belong in Congress

Haley Talbot

A lawmaker close to an interaction between Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., told NBC News about having overheard an awkward moment between the two members that went viral on social media.

During the back-and-forth, Romney told Santos that he does not belong in Congress, said the member who witnessed the moment. 

Number of migrant border crossings drops to lowest level in two years: DHS

Biden called on Republicans to work with him to pass immigration reform and "make it a bipartisan issue like it was before."

"Since we launched our new border plan last month, unlawful migration from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela has come down 97%," he said. "But America’s border problems won’t be fixed until Congress acts."

The number of encounters U.S. Border Patrol agents had with undocumented immigrants crossing the southern border between legal ports of entry dipped below 130,000 in January, their lowest monthly number in two years, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said. 

Overall border crossings, which include undocumented migrants who present themselves at legal ports of entry, also fell from December’s record monthly high of more than 250,000 to 156,000. 

Read the full story here.

Trump: Biden is saying 'folks' too much

Former President Donald Trump, amid his third presidential bid, mocked Biden's repeated use of the word "folks."

Trump has brought up Biden's use of the word multiple times on his Truth Social platform during the speech.

"Too much use of the word 'folks!'" Trump wrote.

Biden could have tough case to make for more Ukraine aid

Biden is touting U.S. support for Ukraine, but Americans are divided over whether the country should be granted more aid.

President Joe Biden walks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
President Joe Biden walks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the White House, in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 21, 2022.Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images file

The latest national NBC News poll finds Americans evenly split on the issue, with 49% saying Congress should provide more funding and weapons for Ukraine in its war with Russia and 47% saying Congress should not.

Read the full story here.

Congress 'must restore' abortion rights, president says

Biden urged Congress to codify abortion rights, after the Supreme Court last year "took away" the constitutional right to an abortion.

President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, in Washington, as Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., watch.
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, on Tuesday.Jacquelyn Martin / Pool via AP

"Congress must restore the right the Supreme Court that was taken away in Roe v. Wade and protect Roe v. Wade," Biden said, criticizing states that have begun enforcing what he called "extreme abortion bans."

"Make no mistake about it; if Congress passes a national abortion ban, I will veto it," Biden said.

Biden highlights effort to ban surprise fees for concerts, resorts

Rose Horowitch

Biden took aim at companies that levy hidden surcharges on consumers and called on Congress to pass the Junk Fee Prevention Act.

The president pointed to surprise "resort fees" that hotels add onto bills, service fees on concert tickets and charges for switching phone providers. "Give me a break,” he said.

"Americans are tired of being played for suckers," Biden said. "Pass the Junk Fee Prevention Act so companies stop ripping us off. For too long workers have been getting stiffed — not anymore."

He also criticized non-compete agreements that companies force workers to sign.

Acknowledging the grieving family of Tyre Nichols, Biden calls for police reform

Biden acknowledged the family of Tyre Nichols, referring to his mother, RowVaughn Wells, and stepfather, Rodney Wells, who were invited to the speech, and called for reform that would hold law enforcement “to higher standards, and help them succeed in keeping everyone safe.”

Nichols, 29, died three days after he was brutally beaten by Memphis police officers at a traffic stop last month, and video released from the brutal beating led to fresh calls for police reform.

"There are no words to describe the heartbreak and grief of losing a child," Biden said. "But imagine what it’s like to lose a child at the hands of the law. Imagine having to worry whether your son or daughter will come home from walking down the street or playing in the park or just driving their car."

Biden went on to say he has "never had to have the talk" with his children that "many Black and brown families have had with their children" about how to behave if they're stopped by law enforcement.

"Imagine having to worry like that every single time your kid got in the car," Biden said, adding, "Our children have a right to come home safely."

"We have to do better," he said.

Biden revives priorities like paid family leave, the expanded child tax credit

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Biden called on Congress to pass paid family leave, which Democrats passed in the House in the last Congress, but the party was unable to come to an agreement on it in the Senate.

"Let’s make sure working parents can afford to raise a family with sick days," he said. "Paid family medical leave, affordable child care."

The president called on Congress to restore the full child tax credit, which he said has given "millions of parents some breathing room and cut child poverty in half to the lowest level in history." Expanding the child tax credit was a major piece of Biden's Build Back Better legislation, which also stalled in the Senate thanks to opposition from moderate Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and others.

He also called on Congress to pass legislation to make preschool universal nationwide.

“If you want America to have the best-educated workforce, let’s finish the job by providing access to preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds," he said.

Rep. Greene, other Republicans boo Biden and shout 'Liar!'

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and other Republicans booed Biden and shouted "Liar!" at him after he accused the GOP of threatening to take away Americans' Medicare and Social Security.

It was the most animated reaction from Republicans the entire night.

"Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset every five years," Biden told lawmakers. "That means if Congress doesn’t vote to keep them, those programs will go away.

"Other Republicans say if we don’t cut Social Security and Medicare, they’ll let America default on its debt for the first time in our history," Biden said.

Those remarks fired up Greene and others. Sporting a white fur coat, Greene stood up, made a thumbs-down gesture and yelled, "Liar!" Others, including Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, also said Biden was lying. And Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., waved her finger at Biden.

Biden wishes GOP 'lots of luck' in repealing his signature climate and tax legislation

Seizing on some Republicans’ threats to repeal one of his signature pieces of legislation, Biden jokingly wished those lawmakers “lots of luck in your senior year,” prompting laughter across the chamber.

“Some members here are threatening — and I know it’s not an official party position … to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act,” Biden said, prompting applause from Republicans.

Lifting his hand, Biden responded to the clapping, saying, “That’s OK, that’s fair,” before he improvised one of the more comical lines of the night.

“As my football coach used to say, lots of luck in your senior year,” he said, prompting loud laughter.

“Make no mistake, if you try to do anything to raise the cost of prescription drugs, I will veto it,” he said.  

Fact-check: Inflation is down; wages are up

“Inflation has fallen every month for the last six months, while take home-pay has gone up,” Biden said.

Those figures are correct: Inflation has been falling since July, and take-home pay has gone up every month of Biden’s administration. But until this summer, inflation was so high it undermined the on-paper gains for Americans. Real weekly wages — which considers both inflation and hours worked — began rising after the second quarter this year, inching up 1.4% since the summer, according to quarterly measures.

Average hourly earnings of all employees rose from $29.92 in January 2021 to $33.03 last month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But median usual weekly real earnings, which take into account inflation, slid from $373 at the start of Biden’s term to $364 in January.

When Biden took office, inflation — as measured by the Consumer Price Index for things like food, electricity, apparel, shelter and gasoline — was rising at an annual rate of 1.4%. Over the last year, it rose rapidly, peaking at 9.1% before it subsided to 6.5% in the most recent government data available.

With June deadline, Biden asks Congress to lift debt ceiling

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Biden called on Congress to raise the debt limit, which lawmakers have always done to prevent a default on the nation's debt.

He said no president added more to the national debt than his predecessor.

"Nearly 25% of the entire national debt that took 200 years to accumulate was added by just one administration alone," Biden said, which drew boos from Republicans. "How did Congress respond to all that debt? They lifted the debt ceiling three times without preconditions or crisis."

He continued: "Tonight I’m asking Congress to follow suit. Let’s commit here tonight to the full faith and credit of the United States of America will never, ever be questioned."

Biden said many Republicans want to take the economy hostage.

"Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security" to be sunset, Biden said. "The idea is that we’re not going to be moved into being threatened to default on the date if we don’t respond."

'The climate crisis doesn’t care if your state is red or blue,' Biden says

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

The president spoke about how the Inflation Reduction Act passed by Congress last year is "the most significant investment ever in climate change."

Biden said the act lowers utility bills, creates jobs and leads to a "clean energy future." He also noted that he has visited the aftermaths of record floods, droughts, storms and wildfires.

"In addition to emergency recovery from Puerto Rico to Florida to Idaho, we are rebuilding for the long term. New electric grids that are able to weather major storms," he said. "Roads and water systems to withstand the next big flood."

Biden said the U.S. is building 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, which he said will be installed across the country by tens of thousands of workers in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

"And helping families save more than $1,000 a year with tax credits to purchase electric vehicles and energy-efficient appliances. Historic conservation efforts to be responsible stewards of our lands," he said.

"Let’s face reality," he continued. "The climate crisis doesn’t care if your state is red or blue. It's an existential threat. We have an obligation to our children and grandchildren to confront it. I’m proud of how America, at last, is stepping up to the challenge."

Flanked by Harris and McCarthy, Biden leans into bipartisanship — at least to start

Amanda TerkelPolitics Managing Editor

"Bipartisanship" is a big theme to start Biden's speech tonight. At the top of his address, he acknowledged the Republican leaders in Congress — congratulating Kevin McCarthy of California on becoming House speaker and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on being the longest-serving Senate leader in history.

"You know, we're often told that Democrats and Republicans can't work together," Biden said. "But over these past two years, we proved the cynics and the naysayers wrong."

President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, in Washington, as Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., watch.
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, on Tuesday.Jacquelyn Martin / Pool via AP

Indeed, during his 2020 campaign, Biden repeatedly said he believed that once Donald Trump was out of office, Republicans would have an "epiphany" and start cooperating with Democrats again.

"Yes, we disagreed plenty. And yes, there were times when Democrats had to go it alone. But time and again, Democrats and Republicans came together," he said. Biden pointed to the infrastructure law, legislation helping veterans exposed to toxic burn pits and a measure protecting marriage equality, among others.

This year, however, Biden confronts a divided Congress after Republicans took back the House with a narrow majority.

"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," he said.

'Let's finish the job this time': Biden calls for universal insulin cap

Rose Horowitch

Rose Horowitch and Aria Bendix

The president urged Congress to cap insulin costs at $35 a month, attacking pharmaceutical companies for profiting off the lifesaving drug.

"Insulin has been around for 100 years. ... It costs the drug companies roughly $10 a vial to make that insulin. Packaging and all you may get up to $13," Biden said. "But Big Pharma has been unfairly charging people hundreds of dollars, $400 to $500, and making record profits."

Last year's Inflation Reduction Act, which passed the Senate along party lines, included a provision to cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month for seniors on Medicare. But Republicans blocked a measure to cap insulin costs for all Americans.

The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that nearly a quarter of Medicare beneficiaries taking insulin spend more than $70 per month on the medication. People on Medicare or those with private insurance paid $63, on average, per insulin fill in 2019. People without insurance paid an average of $123 per insulin fill.

'I get it': Biden addresses people at home who've been 'treated like they're invisible'

Addressing people watching at home, Biden touted his economic plan, saying it invested in “places and people that have been forgotten.”

“Amid the economic upheaval of the past four decades, too many people have been left behind or treated like they’re invisible,” Biden said. “Maybe that’s you, watching from home.

“You remember the jobs that went away. … You wonder whether a path even exists anymore for you and your children to get ahead without moving away,” he continued. “I get it.

“That’s why we’re building an economy where no one is left behind,” Biden said.

Biden highlights effort to boost U.S.-made goods

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Biden announced that his administration is creating standards that would require all construction materials for U.S. infrastructure projects to be made domestically.

"Tonight, I’m also announcing new standards to require all construction materials used in federal infrastructure projects to be made in America," he said. "Lumber, glass, drywall, fiber-optic cables. And on my watch, American roads, bridges and American highways will be made with American products, as well."

Local governments prepare for windfall from CHIPS bill

Biden touted the passage of last year's landmark semiconductor bill.

"Today’s automobiles need up to 3,000 chips each, but American automakers couldn’t make enough cars because there weren’t enough chips," he said. "Car prices went up. So did everything from refrigerators to cellphones. We can never let that happen again. That’s why we came together to pass the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act."

In the coming months, the government plans to start doling out more than $50 billion for semiconductor manufacturing and research as part of the bill, which Biden signed into law last year. The prospect of that much cash has sparked a scramble among states to pitch themselves as the best place to spark a semiconductor boom.

The CHIPS legislation was designed to help bolster America’s supply chain when it came to the production of computer chips used in coffee makers and cars to pacemakers and missiles. While the measure was primarily centered on addressing national economic and security concerns about the lack of domestic manufacturing, it presents a windfall opportunity for state and local governments.

Read the full story here.

Biden urges unity: 'Conflict for the sake of conflict gets us nowhere'

Biden said the nation is writing its next chapter in "a story of progress and resilience," while calling on lawmakers from both parties to work together in the new Congress.

"We’re often told that Democrats and Republicans can’t work together," Biden said. "But over the past two years, we proved the cynics and the naysayers wrong."

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 is speaking against the backdrop of renewed tensions with China and a brewing showdown with House Republicans over raising the federal debt ceiling.
President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday at the Capitol. Nathan Howard / Bloomberg via Getty Images

In spite of disagreements, "time and again, Democrats and Republicans came together," Biden said, citing efforts in the last Congress to defend a more secure Europe and pass infrastructure legislation. 

"In fact, I signed over 300 bipartisan pieces of legislation since becoming president," he said." To my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last Congress, there is no reason we can’t work together and find consensus on important things in this Congress, as well."

Biden pushed back against widening divisions between the parties, saying, "Conflict for the sake of conflict gets us nowhere."

Biden immediately focuses on his economic record

Rose Horowitch

Biden highlighted his economic record as he faces continued criticism for inflation rates.

The president noted that the unemployment rate had fallen to 3.4%, a 50-year low. He brushed off blame for inflation, arguing that it was a global problem because the pandemic disrupted supply chains and Russia's war in Ukraine squeezed food and energy supplies. Biden also pointed to the creation of 800,000 manufacturing jobs, which he called “the fastest growth in 40 years.”

"My dad used to say: ‘Joey, a job's about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, "Honey, it’s going to be OK," and mean it,'" Biden said.

Biden begins speech by thanking Pelosi, leaders

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

The president opened his speech by giving special recognition to congressional leaders but also in particular to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who remains in Congress as a rank-and-file member.

"I want to give special recognition to someone who I think will be considered the greatest speaker in the history of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi," he said.

Pelosi stepped down as Democratic leader at the end of the last Congress, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., has taken over.

Biden also recognized Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., saying, "I don’t want to ruin your reputation, but I look forward to working with you." The line drew applause from members of both parties.

Fact-check: Biden says more job gains in past two years 'than any president has ever created in four years'

“We have created a record 12 million new jobs — more jobs created in two years than any president has ever created in four years,” Biden said.

While those numbers are accurate, there’s more to the story, and Covid played a big role.

U.S. employers have added 12.1 million jobs since Biden took office. The gains came after enormous job losses in 2020 after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and related shutdowns that forced many businesses to close their doors — some permanently, some temporarily.

The numbers Biden highlighted also reflect in part a growing population and, subsequently, a larger workforce. When job gains as a share of the workforce are considered, the progress under Biden doesn’t outpace the four-year gains of some of his recent predecessors.

Job growth since January 2021 has increased the workforce by 8.5%, but other presidents have had better numbers. To name a few: In President Ronald Reagan’s second term, job gains grew the workforce by 11.2%, while President Bill Clinton had increases of 10.5% and 9.3% in his two four-year terms.

President Donald Trump holds the record for the worst four-year jobs numbers of any president in modern history. In his first two years, the workforce grew by just 3%.

Biden has entered the House chamber to deliver address

Biden entered the House chamber shortly after 9 p.m. ET to deliver his second State of the Union address, escorted by a number of senators and House members, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La.

First lady Jill Biden arrived shortly before and was greeted with major applause.

On his way in, the president shook hands and greeted lawmakers and other officials. He is set to begin speaking shortly.

Jackson one of five Supreme Court justices in attendance

Lawrence HurleySupreme Court reporter

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman on the Supreme Court, is one of five justices at tonight’s State of the Union address.

Jackson, whom President Joe Biden appointed last year to replace liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, is joined by justices from both sides of the court’s ideological divide, led by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts.

Roberts is joined by two of his fellow conservatives — Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — and liberal Justice Elena Kagan is also in attendance.

The absent justices are conservatives Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch and liberal Sonia Sotomayor. Thomas, Alito and Sotomayor have not attended in recent years.

Two retired justices, Breyer and Anthony Kennedy, have also joined their former colleagues in the Capitol.

It is mostly the same lineup as last year, when five justices also attended, including Breyer before Jackson’s confirmation.

Justices have over the years groused about the event’s becoming more politicized. Roberts once called it a “political pep rally,” and the late Justice Antonin Scalia said it was a “childish spectacle.”

This year’s State of the Union address is the first since the Supreme Court dramatically curtailed abortion rights by overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, a decision that highlighted the conservative majority’s willingness to aggressively move the legal landscape to the right.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is tonight's 'designated survivor'

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is the designated survivor for tonight's State of the Union Address, which means he will be in a safe location in case catastrophe befalls the U.S. Capitol, where most other top government leaders are gathered.

Marty Walsh, U.S. secretary of labor nominee for U.S. President Joe Biden, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. If confirmed by the Senate, Walsh would take control of a Labor Department that Biden has pledged to reorient toward workers, with a stronger response to the Covid-19 pandemic including a promise to issue an emergency standard that would protect workers from on-the-job infection.
Marty Walsh, then President Joe Biden’s nominee for labor secretary, speaks at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions confirmation hearing in Washington on Feb. 4, 2021.Graeme Jennings / Washington Examiner/Bloomberg via Getty Images file

The State of the Union address is a rare event that brings together the leadership of all three branches of government in one room, including the president and the vice president, Cabinet secretaries, several Supreme Court justices and virtually every member of Congress.

During the Cold War, when the threat of nuclear war seemed imminent, war planners realized a strike on Washington during the speech could wipe out the entire presidential line of succession and much of the U.S. government with it, so the White House began making sure at least one potential presidential successor was kept safe at a secure location outside the Capitol.

Designated survivors have to be in the presidential line of succession and natural-born citizens so they would be eligible to serve as president. They’re usually lesser-known Cabinet secretaries.

Beyond those constitutional requirements, the selection of the survivor usually comes down to more quotidian issues, said former White House Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu, who helped select the designated survivor seven times during Barack Obama’s presidency.

“If there’s going to be an extended discussion of an issue, you want the relevant Cabinet member at the speech,” Lu said on Twitter.

The White House might also select a Cabinet secretary who plans to be traveling outside Washington anyway, but Lu noted that the person would still "need to be in a secure location during the actual speech."

And Lu said officials “tried really hard not to ask the same person to sit out twice,” because “it’s more fun” to attend the State of the Union — especially since “the Cabinet often gets together beforehand for dinner.”

Graphic: The 10 longest and shortest State of the Union speeches since 1964

President Biden’s 61-minute State of the Union speech last year was longer than most recent addresses but wasn’t enough to break into the 10 longest speeches.

To do that this year, Biden would need to talk for at least 67 minutes. An 89-minute speech would put him atop the list of longest speeches since President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Strengthening the economy is public’s top policy priority ahead of State of the Union, poll finds

Mark Murray

Alexandra Marquezis based in Washington, D.C.

Mark Murray and Alexandra Marquez

Seventy-five percent of Americans say strengthening the economy should be the top policy priority for President Joe Biden and Congress to address this year, according to a new Pew Research Center poll, higher than any other priority the survey tested.  

At the bottom of the list of 21 policy priorities is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, with just 26% of respondents saying Biden and Congress should address it this year — a drop from 2021 and 2022, when it was near the top in the poll. 

Read the full story here.

VP Harris leads Senate into the House chamber

Vice President Kamala Harris, the president of the Senate, led senators into the chamber for the speech.

US Vice President Kamala Harris (C), followed by US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (C R rear,) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (C L, rear) arrive for US President Joe Biden's State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 7, 2023. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Vice President Kamala Harris leads the Senate into the House chamber for the State of the Union address Tuesday nightJim Watson / AFP - Getty Images

Embattled Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., standing in the center aisle and sporting a bright yellow tie, awkwardly greeted a number of senators, shaking hands with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Biden will call for bipartisanship but faces challenges in divided Congress

At his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Joe Biden will tout his achievements and issue a fresh call for bipartisan legislating in the divided Congress.

Sitting behind him will be new Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican who leads a fractious and conservative House majority with the power to greenlight or thwart Biden’s best-laid plans.

US Vice President Kamala Harris and US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) listen as US President Joe Biden delivers remarks during the State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 7, 2023.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., listen as President Joe Biden delivers remarks during the State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the US Capitol, on Tuesday.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

A White House official said Biden will tout “transformational” laws he signed over the last two years and call for continuing that progress by “working together in the year ahead.”

The speech highlights a challenge for Biden: deciphering what can realistically pass in a Republican-controlled House and Democratic-led Senate — and creating a fertile environment for it.

Read the full story here.

Biden has left the White House for the Capitol

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

The president and the first lady departed from the White House Diplomatic Room just before 8:30 p.m., entered the presidential limo known as "the Beast" and began driving toward the Capitol.

Capitol buzzing again for SOTU after pandemic restrictions are lifted

With pandemic restrictions lifted this year, State of the Union night feels like its normal self, and the Capitol is buzzing once again.

Waitstaff were carrying hors d’oeuvre trays in and out of Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s office as he hosted a pre-speech reception.

House and Senate lawmakers were allowed to bring guests again, unlike during the two previous years. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., introduced his SOTU guest, new Maryland Secretary of State Susan Lee, to colleagues and reporters.

And Statuary Hall, just off the House floor, was packed again with television cameras, lighting and crews in anticipation of the parade of lawmakers who will give instant reaction to President Joe Biden’s speech.

The ornate room had been shut down during the past two State of the Union nights because of Covid restrictions.

George Santos nabs aisle seat ahead of Biden's entrance

Embattled Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., has positioned himself in the aisle of the House chamber, which many lawmakers often do to shake the president's hand as he walks down toward the dais.

Some of the other members in the aisle are Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and Debbie Dingell, D-Mich.

Reps. Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee, both Texas Democrats and aisle regulars, are once again in position to greet the president, as well.

Biden or bust: Democratic insiders are all in for Biden 2024

PHILADELPHIA — President Joe Biden had one question for Democratic power brokers at a campaign-style rally Friday: “Are you with me?”

The roars of approval and chants of “four more years!” at the Democratic National Committee’s Winter Meeting indicated they were all in for Biden 2024.

Despite lackluster approval ratings, an ongoing classified documents scandal and polls showing most voters would like Biden, 80, to retire, he faces zero meaningful opposition to his leadership of the Democratic Party and an unobstructed path to renomination next year, even before he has officially declared his intention to seek it.

Read the full story here.

NBC News poll: Biden's approval rating unchanged since November

Mark Murray

These are the major findings of a national NBC News poll conducted at the beginning of the new 118th Congress, ahead of Biden’s State of the Union address and after news that classified documents had been found at Biden’s and Trump’s private residences emerged.

Despite a series of legislative wins, positive economic news and a better-than-expected midterm election, Biden’s standing with the public is essentially unchanged from November, the NBC News poll shows.

His overall job rating among all adults stands at 45% approve, 50% disapprove. 

Among registered voters, it’s 46% approve, 50% disapprove — essentially unchanged from the 44% approve, 53% disapprove it was right before November’s midterm elections. 

What’s more, 36% of all adults approve of the president’s handling of the economy (down from 40% among registered voters in September), and 41% approve of his handling of foreign policy (it was 42% among registered voters in September). 

Read the full story here.

Trump plans 'rapid response' to Biden's speech

Former President Donald Trump is planning a "rapid response" to the president's State of the Union address tonight, which includes a video set to be released immediately after the address, said a source familiar with the former president's plans.

Trump said on his Truth Social platform that he'll be doing a "live and full 'Play by Play' analysis of The State of the Union Address" on his site tonight "by popular request."

GOP House member says she plans to boycott State of the Union

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., said she plans to skip Biden's address Tuesday night to protest his policies.

"I will not be attending Biden’s State of the Union to listen to him lie about the damage he has caused to our country while the left-wing media and members of Congress applaud his lies," she said.

Several GOP lawmakers skipped Biden's speech last year because of a Covid testing mandate. When Trump was president, a number of Democrats boycotted his addresses to Congress in protest of his rhetoric and policies.

Monmouth poll: Just 39% say state of the union is strong

Mark Murray

A national Monmouth University poll released Monday finds that just 39% of Americans say the state of the union is strong ahead of Biden's speech.

That includes only 7% of adults who believe the state of the union is “very strong.”

It is a decline from Monmouth's pre-State of the Union poll last year, when 46% of respondents said the state of the union was strong, and from 2018 and 2019 (55% and 49%, respectively).

The Monmouth poll also shows that 73% of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction — similar to the 71% who said that in the most recent NBC News poll.

White House aides keep trying to torch the State of the Union address. Presidents keep getting in the way.

Now and then, a few intrepid White House speechwriters will wage a quiet battle to kill the State of the Union address as we know it — or at least shrink it so it’s no longer the stylized piece of theater it has become.

Worrying that the annual speech has grown stale, presidential aides over the years have sought to shake it up. They’ve considered pulling it out of the Capitol and moving it to heartland states, shortening it by two-thirds or sticking to just a single theme.

But inertia would always take hold. No president wants to give up the pomp and ceremony, much less the millions of eyeballs trained on him, as he strides through the House chamber after the ringing eight-word cue: “Mr. Speaker, the president of the United States!” The state of the union may be strong or getting stronger. But the state of State of the Union address is immutable. It’s not about to change.

“It’s one of the biggest audiences a president commands,” said Kathleen Sebelius, a Cabinet secretary in Barack Obama’s administration. “With a captive audience and people all tuned in at the same time, it’s an opportunity to get across themes and messages that are so important in setting a tone.”

Read the full story here.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to attack Biden over 'left-wing culture war' and 'false idols'

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

In the GOP response to Biden on Tuesday night, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will attack Biden and Democrats over gas prices and a "left-wing culture war."

"While you reap the consequences of their failures, the Biden administration seems more interested in woke fantasies than the hard reality Americans face every day," she will say, according to excerpts released ahead of Biden's address. "Most Americans simply want to live their lives in freedom and peace, but we are under attack in a left-wing culture war we didn’t start and never wanted to fight."

Sanders will say that "everyday" Americans 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," Sanders, who was former President Donald Trump's White House press secretary, will say.

Biden to Republicans: Work with me

Biden will directly address Republicans on Tuesday night, asking them to work with him on efforts he said would help “rebuild” the middle class and "restore the soul of the nation."

“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,” Biden will say, according to excerpts of his speech released by the White House.

“Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict gets us nowhere. 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,” Biden will say.

Biden to tout progress: 'Covid no longer controls our lives'

Biden will declare that the pandemic has receded — saying Covid “no longer controls our lives” — and will tout the economic rebound he says the U.S. has seen under his watch.

According to the president’s prepared remarks, which the White House released Tuesday night, Biden will point to a “record 12 million new jobs” created in the last two years, after a period of “reeling” during which Covid had “shut down our businesses, closed our schools, and robbed us of so much.”

“Today, COVID no longer controls our lives,” Biden will say. Last week, his administration said it would end the national and public health emergencies tied to the coronavirus, signaling a new approach to how the federal government views Covid nearly three years after the pandemic started.

Biden, meanwhile, will also describe the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol as a moment when “democracy faced its greatest threat since the Civil War.”

“Today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken,” he will say.

Biden's State of the Union will preach unity while pitching re-election

President Joe Biden will lay the groundwork for his 2024 re-election campaign Tuesday while urging unity with congressional Republicans in his first State of the Union Address since he declared the end of the coronavirus pandemic emergency.

With Republicans now in control of the House, Biden has little hope of advancing any major legislation.

But the president — who predicted during his campaign that Republicans would have an “epiphany” after former President Donald Trump left office — will tell Republicans in his first address to a joint meeting of the new Congress that the two parties can still find places to work together to get things done, White House officials said. 

Biden will highlight areas where cooperation may be possible, such as countering China — although many Republicans are unhappy with how he handled the suspected Chinese spy balloon — and regulating powerful technology companies.

Read the full story here.

Top White House adviser says Biden to discuss paid leave, expanding child tax credit in speech

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Mitch Landrieu, a senior adviser to Biden, said Tuesday that the president will discuss universal paid parental leave and expanding the child tax credit.

"If you talk to women in the workforce and you ask what is the No. 1 issue that keeps you out of it, it’s child care or the child tax credit," Landrieu, the former mayor of New Orleans, said in an interview with MSNBC’s Katy Tur.

"The president is going to open his hand on that tonight and hope that to find common ground, folks that are representing another part of this country may say, ‘You know what, that is really common ground that really is not a partisan issue, because women are the ones that are going to drive the economy going forward,'" he said.

Biden has consistently called for universal paid parental leave since the beginning of his presidency, as well as expanding the child tax credit.

During Biden's first two years in office, when they controlled the House, Democrats passed his Build Back Better agenda through the lower chamber with both components. Senate Democrats, with their narrow majority in the last Congress, were unable to reach a deal largely because of opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

Colorado vet who tackled Club Q shooter to attend SOTU

Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., tweeted Tuesday that he would bring Richard M. Fierro, the Army veteran who helped disarm the gunman charged in a shooting at a gay club in Colorado Springs, as a guest to the State of the Union.

Fierro's wife, Jessica Fierro, will also as Crow's guest, Crow said in a video he posted that featured the couple saying they were "excited" to be at the Capitol.

Fierro drew national attention for his role in tackling the gunman accused of killing five people at Club Q in October.

Jill Biden's guest list includes Paul Pelosi, Tyre Nichols' parents, Brandon Tsay, the Ukrainian ambassador and Bono

First lady Jill Biden is set to welcome more than two dozen guests to join her in the viewing box for her husband's address, invited “because they personify issues or themes to be addressed by the president in his speech, or they embody the Biden-Harris administration’s policies at work for the American people,” the White House said in a release.

The guests, who will be seated with the first lady and second gentleman Doug Emhoff, include:

  • Oksana Markarova, Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S. The first lady invited Markarova again to join her as a guest in recognition of the continued U.S. support for Ukraine nearly a year after Russia attacked the country.
  • Paul Pelosi, the husband of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who was violently attacked by an intruder in their San Francisco home last fall. Pelosi suffered a fractured skull and injuries to his arms and hands.
  • Brandon Tsay, the man who has been hailed as a hero for disarming the Monterey Park, California, shooter last month. The shooter killed 11 people and injured at least 10 more in a mass shooting at a Lunar New Year celebration in a dance hall. Tsay was awarded a medal of courage by the city of Alhambra last month.
  • RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, the parents of Tyre Nichols, whose death after a brutal beating by Memphis, Tennessee, police sparked protests and renewed calls for policing and gun control measures. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Nichols’ parents had accepted his invitation.
  • Bono, the lead singer of U2 and an activist in the fight against HIV/AIDS and poverty. He played a “pivotal role building public and bipartisan political support for the creation of PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief)” during George W. Bush’s presidency, a program that is “credited with revolutionizing the provision of life-saving HIV medications in poorer countries,” the White House said.

Congressional Black Caucus members to wear buttons to mark history of police brutality

+2

Tony Caprais in Washington, D.C.

Haley Talbot

Rose Horowitch

Tony Capra, Haley Talbot and Rose Horowitch
Button reading "1870" to mark the first known instance of police officers killing an unarmed Black perso
Congressional Black Caucus members will wear buttons with the year of one of the first known instances of a police officer's killing an unarmed Black person.Office of the Congressional Black Caucus

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus will attend tonight's speech wearing buttons reading "1870" to mark one of the first recorded instances of a police officer's killing an unarmed Black person and to call for progress on the issue of police brutality.

The move comes after Tyre Nichols, a Black man, died last month after police officers in Memphis, Tennessee, brutally beat him. Nichols' parents will attend tonight's State of the Union as guests of Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Nichols' death has renewed calls for police reform, although lawmakers acknowledged that they face slim chances of reaching an agreement in the newly divided Congress. Previous talks began after the 2020 murder of George Floyd but fell apart a year later.

A police officer killed Henry Truman of Philadelphia in March 1870. At tonight's address, lawmakers intend to call attention to the lack of progress that has been made in the intervening 153 years and the need for substantive progress, a congressional aide said.

Arkansas Gov. Sanders expected to hit Biden on crime and border in SOTU response

Hallie Jackson

Hallie Jackson and Dareh Gregorian

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is expected to hit the president on the border, crime and drugs in the GOP response to the State of the Union, a source familiar with her planned remarks said.

The newly elected Sanders — who was White House press secretary during the Trump administration — will also tout "a new generation" of Republican leadership while arguing the president is unfit for office, the source said.

“Expect a really big contrast with the president’s 80” years of age, the person familiar with the remarks said of Sanders, who's 40.

Sanders is also expected to argue that Democrats are for more government control, and she is likely to try to draw a contrast not between right and left but between “normal and crazy,” the person said. 

Ahead of the SOTU, Monterey Park hero says he’s still reeling from trauma

Following the shooting tragedy in Monterey Park, California, last month, victims’ families say they will use their spotlight as guests at the State of the Union to discuss the impact of gun violence on their Asian American community. 

Brandon Tsay, who disarmed a mass shooter at a packed dance hall and is attending as President Joe Biden’s guest, said he’s had to contend with subsequent trauma from the incident. Tsay said that seeking mental health help wasn’t a part of his upbringing but that the shooting has changed his perspective.

“Growing up, I feel that I was reinforced [with] the idea that I should … be strong, keep your feelings bottled up and try to be the male, dominant person in your house,” Tsay said. “I know now that I need to seek professional help because these feelings that came about with this situation are too much of a burden to bear by myself.”

Juily Phun, niece of Muoi Dai Ung, who was killed in the Jan. 21 shooting, will be a guest of Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif. She said her message is to not overlook the Asian American community’s needs. 

“This is a beautiful city. But the way that it can be more beautiful, the way that it can be more wonderful and diverse, is that there are resources for the kind of complex community that we have,” Phun said.

Read the full story here.

White House making changes to China section of State of the Union speech after balloon is shot down

Some of the lines in President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address that refer to China are being edited after the surveillance balloon that had made its way across the U.S. last week was shot down, according to three people familiar with the speech.

Parts of the draft remarks for Tuesday night’s speech, which has long included a section about China, could be tweaked after the balloon captured the attention of Americans and drew the ire of Republicans, who have criticized both the president and his administration for their handling of the situation, the sources said.

The discussion among Biden and his aides is how much sharper his rhetoric on China should be, the sources said, with some administration officials making the case that dialing it up too much could be counterproductive as the president continues to navigate the battered relationship between Washington and Beijing.

One White House official said, “We’ve been clear we will defend American values and advance our interests while maintaining open lines of communication with China.”

Another White House official, who was asked whether there would be a specific mention of the balloon in Biden’s speech, said: “It will likely fall more broadly under a larger umbrella of major foreign policy themes reasserting America’s leadership on the world stage.”

Read the full story here.

Rep. Greene trolls Biden with white balloon

Sen. Mazie Hirono to bring sex trafficking survivor as SOTU guest

Kalei Grant, a human trafficking advocate and former victim herself, will be Sen. Mazie Hirono’s guest at the State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Hirono, D-Hawaii, announced that she would be bringing Grant, assistant coordinator of the Hawaii Department of the Attorney General’s Missing Child Center, to help raise awareness about the state’s crisis of missing and slain Indigenous women and girls.

“After healing from her own trauma, Kalei has been a steadfast advocate and has dedicated her career to combating human trafficking,” Hirono said in a statement provided to NBC News. “Kalei’s work and her advocacy are inspiring.”

Read the whole story

How to watch President Joe Biden's State of the Union address

The president's State of the Union address is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. ET, and will be carried live over several NBCUniversal News Group properties, including Nbcnews.com.

NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC, NBC News NOW and Noticias Telemundo will feature live coverage and real-time analysis of the address, Biden's second formal State of the Union and his first before a divided Congress.

Online, the NBCNews.com live blog will stream the address while featuring real-time news, analysis and fact-checking.

NBC News' special coverage will be led by "Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt and "TODAY" co-anchor and NBC News chief legal correspondent Savannah Guthrie beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

MSNBC is beginning special coverage at 8 p.m. ET, led by Rachel Maddow, Joy Reid and Nicolle Wallace. 

NBC News NOW anchors Tom Llamas and Hallie Jackson will also host special coverage at 8 p.m. ET.

CNBC.com will live stream the State of the Union address and host a live blog, while Julio Vaqueiro will lead Noticias Telemundo’s coverage at 9 p.m. ET.

The address is also being streamed live on the White House's website, which will include an American Sign Language translator.

Biden to advocate for 'accountable policing' in address

The president will highlight the need for "effective, accountable policing" in his address, and will again urge Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the White House said Tuesday.

In a release, the White House said the police reform bill — which failed to pass the Senate last year — would "advance accountability, transparency, and public trust in law enforcement. Real change at the state and local level requires congressional action."

Sen. Tim Scott, R.-S.C., who has been a lead Republican negotiator for police reform, said in a series of tweets last week that discussions about resurrecting the bill are “a nonstarter.”

Biden will also urge action on his "Safer America" plan, which would fund 100,000 additional police officers with enhanced training, help clear court backlogs, pay for de-escalation training and invest in crime prevention programs.

He'll also again urge Congress to tackle gun violence. "The president is not going to stop until Congress requires background checks for all guns sales, requires safe storage of firearms, and bans assault weapons and high-capacity weapons — weapons of war that have no place in our communities," the White House release said.

Biden to urge Congress to expand insulin price cap

Rose Horowitch

Biden will use his address to call on Congress to cap insulin prices at $35 a month for all Americans, the White House said Monday.

The president sought to impose a universal insulin price cap as part of last year's Inflation Reduction Act, but Republicans successfully scaled back the measure to affect only Medicare beneficiaries. That policy will go into effect this year. In tonight's address, Biden will pressure Congress to expand the measure to the more than 21 million people with diabetes who are not on Medicare.

"The president will call on Congress to extend this common-sense, life-saving protection to all Americans, not just people with Medicare," the White House said.

Democrats argue that the measure is broadly popular, though it faces a slim chance of passing a Republican-controlled House.

As White House presses 'unity' message, partisan bickering reigns

In the hours before Biden delivers his address, White House aides sought to drive home the message that he wants to work with Congress in a cooperative, bipartisan spirit.  

Trouble is, it may not exist.

Yes, from Capitol Hill to the White House, everyone wants to cure cancer, end opioid addiction, and help veterans — goals the presidents will describe in tonight’s speech. But the temptation to demean the other party is so pronounced that lofty ambitions often are drowned out by the intramural bickering.

Consider the events of this morning. Even as Biden administration officials laid out what the president calls his “unity” agenda, disunity reigned. On Capitol Hill, Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, held a hearing devoted to illegal border crossings. 

“Make no mistake, the state of our border is in crisis,” Comer said. He added, “Starting on his first day in office, President Biden signaled to the world our borders were open. Open to criminals, human traffickers and drug traffickers."

Anticipating the attack, the White House sought to discredit it in advance. As Biden administration aides opened a conference call to brief the press on pieces of the Biden agenda they hope will win bipartisan backing, other White House aides blasted out a memo attacking the Republican-run border hearing.

“It is clear that House Republicans are more interested in staging political stunts than on rolling up their sleeves to work with President Biden and Democrats in Congress on legislation to strengthen border security and fix our immigration system that has needed repair for decades,” wrote Ian Sams, a special assistant to the president.

The ill will in Washington is one reason that some critics believe the State of the Union address has lost its relevance. It doesn’t capture or reflect what’s happening day to day either in the capital or the nation more broadly. “It has felt increasingly rote, often exceedingly empty and removed from the reality of our national and political life,” said Jeff Shesol, a speechwriter in Bill Clinton’s White House.

Biden to address growing mental health crisis in remarks

Rose Horowitch

Biden will use his speech before Congress to announce increased funding for mental health programs and to urge lawmakers to ban online advertising targeting children and impose limits on data collection.

At last year's State of the Union, Biden debuted his four-pronged "unity agenda," which aimed in part to tackle the mental health crisis. Ahead of Tuesday's address, his administration touted its efforts to address rising rates of anxiety and depression, including expanding behavioral health clinics, investing in the 988 suicide prevention hotline and minimizing social media's harms to young people.

At this year's address, Biden will announce increased funding to recruit diverse mental health professionals and to expand the crisis care workforce. Additionally, he will preview an investment of more than $280 million in grants to increase the number of mental health professionals in schools.

This spring, the administration will propose new rules to ensure that mental health providers are being paid on par with other health professionals and that insurance plans are not imposing barriers to mental health care, the White House said Tuesday. The White House noted that the number of children and adolescents with anxiety and depression has risen around 30 percent since 2016. Forty percent of American adults report symptoms of anxiety and depression.