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Biden's speech to Congress: When to watch the president's first address

The speech begins at 9 p.m. ET and will be carried by most television networks and streamed online.
Image: President Joe Biden delivers remarks in Washington on March 29, 2021.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks in Washington on March 29, 2021.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is set to deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night, two days before he notches his 100th day in the White House.

The address, which is similar to the official State of the Union speech, will present Biden's policy priorities and accomplishments, and outline his vision for the country.

Here's what you need to know:

When & where?

The speech is set for 9 p.m. ET and will be held in the House chamber.

How can I watch?

The speech can be seen on all major TV networks, including ABC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, Fox, MSNBC and NBC.

On NBC News, coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET. On MSNBC, special coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET.

The speech will be streamed on NBC News NOW, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Who can attend?

Security will be elevated following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman testified before Congress in February that extremists have expressed a desire to attack the complex during Biden’s address.

The audience inside the House chamber will be severely limited by social distancing guidelines because of the coronavirus pandemic. The total number of attendees will likely be around 200, although a senior Democratic aide said the final number could change.

For past addresses, each member of Congress could bring a guest, and the chamber was often packed with as many as 1,600 people.

This time, no guests will be allowed. Traditionally, most Supreme Court justices and Cabinet secretaries also attend, but this time only a limited number will be in the chamber.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Vice President Kamala Harris will be seated behind Biden, the first time in history that two women will be sitting on the dais behind the president.

Who’s delivering the Republican response?

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., will deliver the GOP response to Biden’s address, immediately after the president's speech.

Scott, the only Black Republican senator and a potential presidential contender in 2024, is a leading voice in his party on race and criminal justice reform.

“Senator Tim Scott is not just one of the strongest leaders in our Senate Republican Conference. He is one of the most inspiring and unifying leaders in our nation,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement announcing the selection

What will Biden talk about?

The speech will give Biden the opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of his first 100 days in office and present his vision moving forward.

He is expected to talk about how his administration has handled the coronavirus pandemic, the status of vaccinations, and his sweeping $1.9 trillion infrastructure and jobs package.

Recent presidents have focused their initial joint address to Congress on the U.S. economy, according to the office of the House Historian, and Biden is likely to do so, as well.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last week that he will lay out a new $1.5 trillion spending and tax proposal called the “American Families Plan.” Other priorities Biden will address, according to Psaki, include expanding access to health care and putting police reforms in place.

How long will it last?

Speeches by previous presidents to Congress lasted about an hour each, according to the American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara. President Donald Trump’s first congressional address in 2017, for example, lasted exactly an hour while his subsequent State of the Union addresses were about an hour and 20 minutes each. President Barack Obama’s first address in 2009 lasted 51 minutes.