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Biden's State of the Union address 2022: Full coverage and highlights

Biden announced several new measures aimed at punishing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

President Joe Biden made the war in Ukraine a major focus of his first State of the Union address Tuesday, touting the unified allied response to Russia's invasion, including the closure of U.S. airspace to Russian flights, and taking aim at Russian President Vladimir Putin, who he said was "now isolated from the world more than he has ever been."

On the domestic front, Biden addressed the economy and inflation, which is at its highest level in decades and has been cited by voters as a top concern — and a major reason for his weak approval ratings in polling. He pointed out record job gains and economic growth and praised the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill as a major success. He also called for building up the U.S. manufacturing base and, with Covid receding, urged Americans to get back to work and schools — restrictions on which being a main point of GOP criticism.

The president used the address to counter Republican attacks on his performance and agenda, calling, for example, to fight increasing crime by providing more funding to police. And he pressed for greater unity, calling for an end to the politicization of the pandemic while praising his Supreme Court pick, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, as a "consensus builder" and rebranding his Build Back Better agenda in an attempt to salvage some of its elements.

Biden says U.S. to release 30 million barrels of oil from reserve

Biden said the U.S. plans to release 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as part of a global effort to protect consumers and businesses from rising fuel prices as the U.S. and allies target Russia's economy.

The U.S. contribution is part of a larger effort with 30 other countries to release 60 million barrels of oil from reserves around the world, he said.

Biden added, “And we stand ready to do more if necessary, unified with our allies.” 

Biden warns Russian oligarchs: We’re coming for your assets

Biden announced the Justice Department is launching a task force to take aim at Russian oligarchs and their holdings.

“Tonight I say to the Russian oligarchs and corrupt leaders who have bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime: No more,” he said, adding: “We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets. We are coming for your ill-begotten gains.”

Biden’s comments drew big cheers.

Ukrainian ambassador gets bipartisan ovation

Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., got a lengthy standing ovation from both Democrats and Republicans early in Biden’s address. Markarova is a guest of first lady Jill Biden.

“Let each of us here tonight in this chamber send an unmistakable signal to Ukraine and to the world,” Biden said. “Please rise if you are able and show that, yes, we the United States of America stand with the Ukrainian people.”

Biden opens speech talking about crisis in Ukraine

Biden opened his speech Tuesday with a forceful rebuke of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“To every Ukrainian — their fearlessness, their courage, their determination inspires the world,” Biden said. “Groups of citizens blocking tanks with their bodies. Everyone — from students to retirees to teachers — turned soldiers defending their homeland.”

Biden took direct aim at Russian President Vladimir Putin and said the U.S. would join European allies in banning Russian flights from U.S. airspace, pointing to the move as another example of the West’s unifying against Putin.

“Putin is now isolated from the world more than he has ever been,” Biden said.

TOPIC TRACKER: What is Biden covering during the State of the Union?

From rising inflation and the state of the economy to the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the president faces tough choices about what to include in Tuesday night’s speech.

What will he address — and for how long? NBC News is tracking the topics of each of Biden’s remarks as the night unfolds. Follow along in the graphic below and at this link as the night goes on.

Exxon to pull out of Russian pipeline, says it will make no new investments

Oil giant ExxonMobil said Tuesday that it will halt operations at a pipeline it has described as one of the single largest direct international investments in Russia.

In a statement, the company said it supports Ukrainians "as they seek to defend their freedom and determine their own future as a nation," adding, "We deplore Russia's military action that violates the territorial integrity of Ukraine and endangers its people."

The company said that it was beginning the "process to discontinue operations" at the Sakhalin-1 pipeline and that it is fully complying with sanctions. The statement added that ExxonMobil will not invest in new developments in the country.

ExxonMobil has operated the 143-mile pipeline, which spans the Tatar Strait in southeastern Russia, on behalf of a consortium of Japanese, Indian and Russian companies since the mid-2000s.  

The move follows an announcement Sunday by the British energy giant BP that it was offloading a nearly 20 percent stake in Rosneft, a Russia-controlled oil company. Earlier Tuesday, Shell also said it will exit all Russian operations, including a major liquified natural gas plant, according to Reuters.

Harris, Pelosi mark first State of the Union with two women behind dais

Biden’s first State of the Union marks the first time a female vice president and a female speaker of the House stand behind a president on the dais. 

Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., are standing behind Biden.

Image: Vice President Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., prior to the State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on March 1, 2022.
Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before the State of the Union address Tuesday. Julia Nikhinson / Pool via AFP - Getty Images

Biden enters House chamber to deliver State of the Union

Biden has entered the House chamber to deliver his first State of the Union. He is set to begin speaking any moment now.

Masks optional at Biden’s State of the Union address

With Covid cases on the decline nationally, few members of Congress are masked at Biden’s first State of the Union address, where mask-wearing is optional. Nationally, many jurisdictions have ditched mask mandates in recent weeks.

Tonight’s designated survivor is …

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

At least one Cabinet member is chosen not to attend the State of the Union address each year. The custom is meant to preserve the constitutional line of succession should there be an attack on the Capitol. 

Raimondo was the governor of Rhode Island before she joined the Biden administration. 

Some members of Congress test positive for Covid ahead of Biden's address

Some members of Congress tested positive for Covid before Biden's State of the Union address. They are Reps. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., as well as Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif.

The four said they won't attend Biden's speech Tuesday night.

Lawmakers have just returned to Capitol Hill from a recess, so some have traveled more than usual. Masks are optional for those attending the president's address.

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen among Jill Biden's SOTU guests

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen is one of first lady Jill Biden's guests at the State of the Union speech, the White House announced in a statement.

Haugen, of Iowa City, is a former product manager on Facebook's civic misinformation team who leaked documents to The Wall Street Journal last year showing that the company's executives had been aware of negative impacts of its platforms on some young users. She testified before the Senate in October, saying that the social media giant's products "harm children, stoke division, weaken our democracy and much more."

Haugen also advocated for more transparency at the company. “As long as Facebook is operating in the dark, it is accountable to no one," she said at the time, prompting a spokesperson for Facebook to respond: "We don't agree with her characterization of the many issues she testified about." 

The White House described Haugen as "an advocate for more humanity and transparency across the tech and social media industry, especially as it relates to teen mental health." 

Biden to announce plans to target pandemic fraud during speech

President Joe Biden will outline his steps to tackle pandemic fraud during Tuesday's State of the Union address.

Among the initiatives he will announce are the appointment of a chief prosecutor at the Justice Department to focus on "the most egregious forms of pandemic fraud," according to a White House release. That includes identity theft.

Biden will also announce "heightened resources and enhanced penalties for egregious pandemic fraud" related to Paycheck Protection Program loans and unemployment insurance as well as an executive order on "preventing identity theft in public benefits programs," the release said.

Rep. Maloney wears traditional Ukrainian clothing ahead of address

Image: Rep. Carolyn Maloney wears traditional Ukrainian clothing as she sits in the House Chamber ahead of President Joe Biden's first State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol on March 1, 2022.
Evelyn Hockstein / AFP - Getty Images

Rep. Carolyn Maloney wears traditional Ukrainian clothing as she sits in the House Chamber ahead of President Joe Biden's first State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol on March 1, 2022.

William Shatner, host of show on Kremlin-backed network, says 'sympathy' with Ukraine

William Shatner, who hosts a talk show that has aired on the Kremlin-backed television channel RT America, said Tuesday that his "total sympathy is with Ukraine."

"I await with apprehension what will transpire but my total sympathy is with Ukraine," Shatner said in an email to NBC News. "They are the historic change in the world today and I look at them with great admiration and pray that they will emerge victorious."

Shatner's show, "I Don't Understand," is produced by Ora TV, a media company that licenses content to RT America, the U.S. arm of the Russian state-backed RT media operation.

"Ora TV sold the show to RT America," Shatner said in the email. "I had no say in the matter." (Deadline reported Tuesday that Ora TV "paused production" on shows it licenses to RT America. Shatner confirmed he was aware of that decision.)

In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, RT America personalities based in the U.S. have come under scrutiny for associating themselves with the Moscow-based RT network, which U.S. intelligence agencies have described as "Russia's state-run propaganda machine."

"I Don't Understand" debuted on RT America in July 2021. In an interview with NBC News that month, he described it as an "innocuous show about inquiry into arcane pieces of knowledge." In his email this week, he said the series was "totally, absolutely non-political."

In a tweet Tuesday night, Shatner put a finer point on it: "It’s a distribution deal I have no control over. I don’t do the show for RT; they take the finished show. As of right now all the episodes are filmed & delivered. Am I clear? Good."

"Saturday Night Live" alum and political commentator Dennis Miller, who also hosts an Ora-produced talk show that has aired on RT America, decided to stop making the series after the invasion, a source familiar with his thinking told NBC News on Monday.

What progressives want: Corporate villains

Progressives have long pressed Biden to identify his adversaries, and they believe he will use the State of the Union address to name corporate America as an inflation culprit.

"We expect a messaging win tonight as President Biden makes clear on the biggest stage of the year that corporate price-gouging is a central villain in the inflation story," Adam Green, a co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in a statement Tuesday. "This is a win-win, good policy and essential politics, as Democrats play offense on the economy in 2022."

Like his overall approval ratings, Biden's numbers on the economy have been stuck in a ditch. A Harvard-Harris poll conducted late last month found that two-thirds of registered voters disapprove of his handling of the economy, while one-third approve. The survey was more bleak for Biden than most, but his average in recent polls, according to RealClearPolitics, is 37 percent approval and 59 percent disapproval.

That helps explain why progressives are eager for Biden to take a new tack.

House Republicans declare U.S. in 'crisis,' blame Biden ahead of speech

House Republicans declared that the U.S. is in crisis, blaming the Biden administration for a number of issues including higher inflation and violent crime rates during a weekly GOP briefing ahead of the president's State of the Union address.

"The United States and now the world have faced crisis after crisis," Rep. Elise Stafanik, R-N.Y., told reporters Tuesday. "President Biden will try to rewrite history of the past year and pass the buck instead of taking responsibility for the failures of his radical far-left Democrat agenda."

Stefanik, the No. 3 Republican in the House, also alleged that Biden "failed to engage in meaningful deterrence" in the months before Russia moved to attack Ukraine.

Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., the first Ukrainian-born member of Congress, urged the administration to do more to help Ukraine, noting that her 95-year-old grandmother was still in the country. "She’s experienced Stalin, she experienced Hitler but says she never experience anything like this. Ever," she said.

Image: US-POLITICS-BIDEN
Ukrainian flags fly next to the U.S. and Washington, D.C., flags along Pennsylvania Avenue ahead of the State of the Union.Stefani Reynolds / AFP - Getty Images

Biden to discuss plan to fight crime, curb gun violence

Biden will discuss his strategy to bolster the police and curb gun violence during his address Tuesday evening. 

In his address Biden will highlight his strategy, which focuses on two policies, "investing in crime prevention and helping cities and towns hire additional community police officers to walk the streets, get to know their neighbors, and restore trust and safety," said the White House in a fact sheet. 

Biden, during his speech, will also urge Congress to act on his $300 million budget request to more than double the Justice Dept.'s community policing grant program and to pass "commonsense" gun violence prevention legislation. 

"President Biden recognizes the important role that law enforcement plays in stopping the interstate flow of guns used in crimes and taking off our streets the small number of individuals responsible for a disproportionate amount of gun crimes," the White House added. 

Biden to announce U.S. will close its skies to Russian aircraft

The U.S. will close its skies to Russian aircraft, President Joe Biden will announce during his State of the Union address Tuesday night, according to a source familiar with the president's plans.

The announcement will come during an address that will focus heavily on the response by the U.S. and its allies against the Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The move to close U.S. airspace to Russian aircraft follows actions taken by the European Union earlier this week to do the same.

On Sunday, the E.U. banned all travel from Russian planes over its airspace in response to President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. That ban applied to “any plane owned, chartered or otherwise controlled by a Russian legal or natural person” and included any aircraft privately owned by a Russian oligarch, officials said.

Read the full story here.

Biden will lay out plan to address the nation's mental health crisis

Biden will outline a plan to address the country's mental health crisis and call for large investments in the workforce to build capacity to meet mental health needs as part of his "unity agenda," a senior administration official said Tuesday ahead of his speech.

The president's upcoming budget request will include investment in programs that bring clinicians into health and substance use specialties, an expansion of community behavioral health and mental health centers as well as money for mental health resources in schools, the official continued.

The president, the official said, will also highlight the launch by the Department of Health and Human Services this summer of a hotline that would connect people to mental health services, and intends to call for measures to address social media's harm on young people's mental health including research to understand the extent of its impact as well as strengthening privacy and advertising protections.

Trump declines to criticize Putin directly as he slams U.S. leaders

In a 160-word statement issued Tuesday, former President Donald Trump blasted Democrats, Republicans and the news media for allegedly twisting his words on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. None of those words offered a direct criticism for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The RINOS [Republicans in name only], Warmongers and Fake News continue to blatantly lie and misrepresent my remarks on Putin because they know this is a terrible war being waged against Ukraine that would have never happened under my watch," Trump said, hours before President Joe Biden was slated to deliver a blistering attack on the Russian leader during Tuesday's State of the Union address.

"They did absolutely nothing as Putin declared much of Ukraine an 'independent territory,'" he continued. "There should be no war waging now in Ukraine, and it is terrible for humanity that Biden, NATO and the West have failed so terribly in allowing it to start."

A little more than a week ago, Trump called Putin a "genius." At the Conservative Political Action Committee conference in Orlando Saturday, where attendees were divided over the U.S. role in supporting Ukraine, he said the problem is less Putin's genius than that "our leaders are dumb — so dumb."In his statement Tuesday, Trump said western leaders "laid down the welcome mat and gave Russia the opening," adding that "now Putin may be getting everything he wanted, with Ukraine and the rest of the world suffering the consequences."

Biden to lay out four-point economic plan, emphasize deficit reduction

Biden will outline a four-part economic plan, White House aide David Kamin told Democratic congressional aides on a call Tuesday.

"The economic plan will have four big planks to it," Kamin said, according to a person who was on the call. "The first is making more things in America, strengthening our supply chain. Second is reducing the costs of everyday expenses working families face while reducing the deficit."

Kamin mentioned deficit reduction at least four times in his brief remarks, previewing Biden's argument that his spending plans are offset by proposals to tax wealthier people and corporations. 

"The third [plank] is promoting fair competition to lower prices, help small business thrive and protect consumers," Kamin said, according to the source. "The fourth is eliminating barriers to good-paying jobs for workers across the United States."

Biden to blast Putin, lay out plans to tackle inflation in State of the Union

President Joe Biden planned to attack Russian President Vladimir Putin for the “premeditated and unprovoked” Russian invasion of Ukraine and lay out plans to address the highest inflation in decades in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Following the sixth day of the Russian assault on Ukraine, Biden was to highlight the unity between the U.S. and its NATO allies in their response to Russia, saying Putin had underestimated the strength of the NATO alliance, according to prepared remarks released by the White House.

"Putin’s war was premeditated and unprovoked. He rejected efforts at diplomacy. He thought the West and NATO wouldn’t respond. And, he thought he could divide us here at home," Biden planned to say. "Putin was wrong. We were ready."

On the domestic front, Biden also planned to focus heavily on the economy and inflation, which is at its highest levels in decades and has been cited by voters as a top concern. 

Read the full story.