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US president believes he has an economic success story to tell although polls indicate voters are skeptical.
Progressives voiced a note of cautious optimism in response to Joe Biden‘s second State of the Union speech.
While emphasizing that more action is needed to address gun violence, the climate crisis and immigration policy, progressive groups expressed a commitment to work with Biden to realize the goals he outlined tonight.
Here are a few comments from progressive leaders:
Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, president of the youth voting group NextGen America:
Earlier this month, NextGen America and 20 coalition partners sent President Biden the Youth Agenda, a list of legislative priorities outlining young peoples’ hopes and vision for the future. After watching his address tonight, it is clear he is listening to us and willing to continue fighting for our movement.
Peter Ambler, executive director of the gun safety group Giffords:
President Biden has been a stalwart leader on gun safety, from pushing ATF to regulate ghost guns to signing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law, but more must be done. Tonight, President Biden called on Congress to act and save lives. Bipartisan success is possible, and it is urgent that Congress comes together.
Varshini Prakash, executive director of the climate group Sunrise Movement:
President Biden’s right – we’ve come a long way, but the job’s not done. Truthfully, we’ve heard a lot of good things tonight, but if the President wants to keep his promises and energize young voters ahead of 2024, he must act on his words, use his full executive authority to stop the climate crisis and deliver for our generation.
“Here’s the real State of the Union.” Thus begins Donald Trump in a video rebuttal to Biden’s State of the Union address.
He then airs a number of familiar grievances concerning his White House successor, including plenty of misinformation. For instance, Trump says, “Under Biden the murder rate has reached the highest in the history of our country.” It hasn’t.
This right here is the meat of Trump’s message:
But the good news is we are going to reverse every single crisis, calamity and disaster that Joe Biden has created. I am running for President to end the destruction of our country and to complete the unfinished business of Making America Great Again. We will make our country better than ever before, and we will always put America First.
You can watch the rest of the video here.
Republicans didn’t find a lot to like in that speech.
While House speaker Kevin McCarthy and some GOP lawmakers joined in the applause occasionally, they are by and large no fans of Biden’s policies. Here are a few of their objections, as articulated by Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee:
Biden doubled down on his disastrous and polarizing agenda which has left working families behind. Instead of taking responsibility for the multiple crises he and Democrats created, Biden blamed everyone but himself for historic inflation, skyrocketing crime, and a porous southern border. Biden once again proved he is the divider-in-chief.
Biden ends speech, saying ‘the state of the union is strong’
Biden has wrapped up his speech by declaring, “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.”
“I’m not new to this place. I stand here tonight, having served as long as about any one of you have ever served here,” he continued, drawing laughter, considering he’s been an elected official in Washington since 1973.
“I’ve never been more optimistic about our future, about the future America. Just remember who we are. We’re the United States of America. And there’s nothing, nothing beyond our capacity. If we do it together.”
It appears that the “liar” remark directed at Joe Biden moments ago came from Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, an extremist Republican from Georgia.
Greene stood and shouted at Biden as he accused Republicans of targeting the Medicare and social security programs as the party looks to cut federal spending.
Although a number of Republicans have rejected proposals to overhaul Medicare and social security, some members of the party, including Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, have suggested that the programs should instead be subjected to annual approval. Such a policy could result in the programs being eliminated.
Greene’s heckling of Biden may remind viewers of Barack Obama‘s 2009 address to Congress, when Republican congressman Joe Wilson shouted “You lie!” at the then-president.
The congresswoman’s outburst comes after the House Republican speaker, Kevin McCarthy, promised that members would abide by the chamber’s code of ethics during Biden’s State of the Union address.
More rancor in the House chamber.
Biden was talking about the toll fentanyl has taken on drug users, noting, “Fentanyl is killing more than 70,000 Americans a year.” Shouts of “point of order” rang out, with someone yelling, “it’s your fault.”
It’s not clear who was doing the shouting, but Republicans have sought to blame the Biden administration for poor border security that they say has allowed illicit fentanyl into the United States.
‘You don’t belong here’: Mitt Romney to George Santos
When they crossed paths on the House floor before Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, senator Mitt Romney told George Santos “you don’t belong here,” CNN reports:
The Republican senator from Utah, Romney was the GOP’s nominee for president in 2012. Santos is a freshman GOP House representative from New York, who lied repeatedly about his resume and is the subject of several investigations.
Biden drew fury from Republicans when he accused some GOP lawmakers of wanting “to take the economy hostage” and planning to cut social security and Medicare.
“Some of my Republican friends want to take the economy hostage … unless I agree to their economic plans,” Biden said. That was a reference to the GOP’s insistence that they won’t agree to raise the debt limit unless Democrats back lowering government spending.
Then came the remark that drew fury: “Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans … want Medicare and social security sunset.”
Aimed at seniors and people with disabilities, the healthcare and retirement programs are both expensive and popular. Democrats have vowed to protect them, and accused Republicans of wanting to abolish them, an allegations the party denies. Thus, the president’s comment prompted GOP lawmakers to protest, with at least one shouting “liar!” at the president. Biden appeared to respond to their heckling, saying he wasn’t going to name the individual lawmakers who have proposed cutting the programs, but insisting some have.
Then, sensing an opportunity, he asked, “So, folks, as we all apparently agree, social security, Medicare is off the books now?” Lawmakers applauded, leading the president to remark, “all right!”
Biden just made his first veto threat, warning Republicans not to attempt to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, particularly its provisions aimed at lowering prescription drug costs for people on Medicare.
“Some members here are threatening, and I know it’s not an official party position, so I’m not going to exaggerate but … to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act,” Biden said. “That’s OK, that’s fair. As my football coach used to say lot’s of luck in your senior year.
“Make no mistake, if you try anything to raise the costs of prescription drugs, I will veto it.”
Now Biden’s getting into controversial territory, at least when it comes to the priorities of the House Republicans.
He’s blaming Donald Trump for America’s sizable budget deficit, saying “Under the previous administration, the American deficit went up four years in a row … nearly 25% of the entire national debt that took over 200 years to accumulate was added by just one administration alone, and the last one. They’re the facts, check it out.”
Then he leaned on Congress to increase America’s borrowing limit, which it will have to do by around June in order to prevent the country from defaulting. Biden said that under Trump, Congress “did the right thing that led to the debt ceiling three times without preconditions or crisis … let’s commit here tonight that the full faith and credit of the United States of America will never, ever be questioned.”
Biden just recapped his economic policies, including the 2021 infrastructure overhaul that will pour $1tn into fixing roads, bridges, airports, pipes and other capital works across the country.
The president said he wanted to “thank my Republican friends who voted for the law, and my Republican friends who voted against it as well … I still get asked to fund the projects in those districts as well. But don’t worry. I promised I’d be a president for all Americans. We’ll fund these projects, and I’ll see you at the groundbreaking.”
Here’s a dynamic to watch in the speech: who claps and who doesn’t, and when.
For instance, Biden just said that, “Two years ago, our democracy faced its greatest threat since the Civil War. Today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken.” That’s a reference to the January 6 attack on the Capitol by Donald Trump’s supporters.
Democrats stood and applauded that line, but few, if any, Republicans moved their hands at all.
Biden is congratulating congressional leaders as he starts his remarks, including Kevin McCarthy, the new Republican House speaker who is one of the president’s chief rivals.
“Speaker, I don’t want to ruin your reputation, but I look forward to working with you,” Biden said, to laughter.
Biden begins State of the Union address
Joe Biden has taken the podium before a joint session of Congress to give his second State of the Union address, and the first since his Democratic allies lost control of the House of Representatives.
Follow this blog for live updates.
Joe Biden has entered the House chamber, to applause.
He’s shaking the hands of lawmakers as he walks down the aisle.
The White House has announced that labor secretary Marty Walsh is the designated survivor, meaning he’s currently watching the speech from a secure location.
More guests have arrived, including Jill Biden, who is sitting with Doug Emhoff, Kamala Harris’s husband.
Joe Biden’s cabinet secretaries are filing in, as have several supreme court justices, including chief justice John Roberts and associated justices Brett Kavanaugh, Ketanji Brown Jackson and Amy Coney Barrett.
Hersey Kyota, who is the ambassador from Palau and dean of the diplomatic corps, has also arrived.
Before the event kicked off, senators and House representatives were milling about, and the cameras caught a few interesting exchanges.
Here’s one between Mitt Romney and George Santos, the congressman who is in deep trouble for lying about all sorts of things in his campaign for office:
Lawmakers welcome Biden to House chamber as State of the Union begins
Kamala Harris and Kevin McCarthy are reading the names of senators and representatives who will escort Joe Biden into the House chamber, where he is to deliver the State of the Union address.
If this is anything like years past, Biden will come in and more or less wade through a crowd of lawmakers, shaking hands and exchanging remarks until he eventually reaches the podium, where he’ll make his speech.
A farm worker advocate in Half Moon Bay, California – where a gunman last month killed seven – will be attending the State of the Union as a guest of congresswoman Anna Eshoo.
Dr Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga, founder and executive director of Ayudando Latinos a Soñar (ALAS), a social services nonprofit based in Half Moon Bay, has been working with victims’ families as well as workers who have had to return to the farms where the shootings occurred.
A farm worker is charged with killing seven people at two Half Moon Bay mushroom farms, after investigators said he was enraged by a supervisor’s demand that he pay $100 to repair a forklift damaged at work.
The shooting has brought new attention to the working conditions of migrant farmworkers in the region. Workers at Terra Garden, where four were killed, were living in shipping containers and earning $9 an hour.
“This tragedy brings to light the silence with which many have lived in … in these deplorable conditions with these inequitable wages and lack of health care. We are hoping that this response really turns the tide,” Hernandez-Arriaga told KQED.
Many workers returned to both farms just days after their co-workers were killed – largely because they were in economically precarious situations and had few other options, local advocates have said.
Those affected “need the reassurance from our community leaders and our politicians that farm worker conditions will change,” Hernandez-Arriaga, said. “They need to know that there’s going to be a national response to improve the lives of farm workers, their living conditions, their economic wages, their mental health, medical and so much more.”
Kamala Harris is already at the Capitol, where she’ll be sitting behind the president in her role as vice-president.
She ascended the dais and stood next to Kevin McCarthy. A microphone picked up the two chatting, with Harris saying it was “a packed house”, and remarking on the lack of masks.
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A live feed of the State of the Union address will be embedded at the top of this page momentarily. The speech is set to begin at 9pm eastern time.
Joe Biden has left the White House and is driving down Washington’s Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol to give the State of the Union address.
As he walked to his armored limousine known as The Beast, Biden told reporters he was “feeling good.” Asked what the state of the union was, he replied, “great shape. Getting better.”
The State of the Union address is a big deal for many reasons, one of them being the fact that it’s a rare moment when the president will be in the same room as all members of Congress and most cabinet secretaries, along with several supreme court justices.
But what if something were to happen to the leaders of the American government while they’re all in the Capitol? The government has a plan for that, which involves designating a survivor from within the presidential line of succession and taking them to a secure location while the president is making their address, just in case.
We don’t know who the designated survivor is this year; it’ll only be known after the speech wraps. Last year, it was commerce secretary Gina Raimondo.
On Twitter, Chris Lu, who worked in the Barack Obama White House and is now with the American mission to the United Nations, elaborated on some of the considerations that go into designating a survivor from among the executive branch:
A coalition of youth-led organizations have outlined a number of policy changes that Joe Biden should announce in his State of the Union address, warning that failing to deliver could depress young voter turnout in 2024.
In a statement co-signed by March for Our Lives, Sunrise Movement, Gen Z for Change and United We Dream Action, the groups suggested Biden should use the power of the executive pen to address the climate crisis, gun violence and immigration policy.
“We need to see more from President Biden,” the groups said. “Without a Democratic majority in Congress, President Biden must step up and use the full extent of his power to invest in the top issues facing our generation.”
Among other demands, the organizations called on Biden to establish a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented people, declare gun violence to be a national emergency and invoke the Defense Production Act to support the renewable energy industry.
The groups reminded Biden that young Americans were crucial to his 2020 victory and they later helped stave off widespread Democratic defeats in the 2022 midterm elections. If Biden does not take more decisive steps to address young voters’ concerns, the groups said, his inaction could jeopardize Democrats’ electoral prospects.
“We are fired up and are fighting for change,” they said. “If President Biden wants to hold Democratic power long term, he must listen to us and deliver.”
Lawmakers have the ability to invite guests to the State of the Union address, and the Guardian’s Edwin Rios reports relatives of Black people killed by police will be in the chamber when Joe Biden gives his speech tonight:
Families of Black people killed by police in recent years, including George Floyd’s brother and Michael Brown’s father, will attend the State of the Union address on Tuesday night alongside lawmakers advocating for urgent police reform. The push in Congress comes after the recent beating death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police.
The release of video footage, along with the charging of several Memphis police officers involved in Nichols’s death and the firing of several employees from the Memphis police and fire departments, reignited national outcry over police brutality and calls for reforms. This includes renewed efforts to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which was introduced after the murder of George Floyd in 2020. It was passed twice by the US House before failing to clear the Senate in 2021.
Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee plans to reintroduce the legislation after the State of the Union address and include provisions named after Tyre Nichols that would require police officers to intervene when excessive force is used. A divided Congress will make satisfying current demands even more difficult.
Related: Families of Black people killed by police push for reform at State of the Union
As is customary, a prominent Republican will deliver a speech in response to Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, and this year, current Arkansas governor and former Donald Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will do the honors.
Unsurprisingly, it will touch on economic issues, with Sanders to say, “Republicans believe in an America where strong families thrive in safe communities. Where jobs are abundant, and paychecks are rising,” according to excerpts released by the office of Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate.
“In the radical left’s America, Washington taxes you and lights your hard-earned money on fire, but you get crushed with high gas prices, empty grocery shelves, and our children are taught to hate one another on account of their race, but not to love one another or our great country.”
Sander’s speech appears to be considerably more heated than what the president plans to say, although Biden’s full speech hasn’t been made public yet. Here’s what she has to say about what could best be described as the “culture wars”:
And 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. 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.
Every day, we 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.
Kevin McCarthy had another message for reporters on Monday: no drama.
“I won’t tear up the speech, I won’t play games,” he said, according to the Associated Press. Tonight’s State of the Union will be the first since 2020 where the speaker of the House is not of the same party as the president. Just after his address concluded three years ago, Democrat Nancy Pelosi shredded Republican Donald Trump’s speech while standing behind him, in full view of the cameras.
McCarthy did have one ask of Biden, the AP reports: don’t say “extreme Maga Republicans”, the term the president has used to condemn Republicans who adhere to the former president’s ideology.
“The state of the union is not great.”
That’s the line from Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House speaker who will be sitting behind Biden as he gives his address tonight. He then goes onto call for Joe Biden to sit down with the GOP to fix the country’s issues, all while insisting the Democrats can’t be trusted to run the government.
Here’s more from his interview with CNBC ahead of the speech:
‘Finish the job,’ Biden to declare in State of the Union speech
In his State of the Union address tonight, Joe Biden will appeal to Republicans and argue that Americans will benefit only if the two parties work together.
“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,” the president will say, according to excerpts released by the White House. “The people sent us a clear message. 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. We’ve been sent here to finish the job!”
His speech appears set to focus heavily on the economy, with Biden noting how America has recovered more quickly from the Covid-19 pandemic than other major markets.
“The story of America is a story of progress and resilience … We are the only country that has emerged from every crisis stronger than when we entered it. That is what we are doing again,” Biden will say. “Two years ago, Covid had shut down our businesses, closed our schools, and robbed us of so much. Today, Covid no longer controls our lives.”
He’ll also try to empathize with Americans as he argues that his policies have improved their lot, despite high inflation and many workers’ generally gloomy views of the economy.
“Amid the economic upheaval of the past four decades, too many people have been left behind or treated like they’re invisible. Maybe that’s you watching at home. You remember the jobs that went away. And you wonder whether a path even exists anymore for you and your children to get ahead without moving away,” the president will say.
“I get it. That’s why we’re building an economy where no one is left behind. Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back because of the choices we made in the last two years. This is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America and make a real difference in your lives.”
Joe Biden’s delivered his last State of the Union address on 1 March, 2022. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of how America has changed since then:
Conservatives on the supreme court accomplished a goal they’d been working towards for decades by overturning Roe v Wade and allowing states to ban abortion entirely. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 12 states have now banned procedure outright or with very limited exceptions, while abortion is unavailable in two others. The Republican-appointed justices responsible for the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision may be in the room when Biden speaks tonight.
Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives after the midterm elections, but only by four seats, defying predictions of a “red wave” of Republican victories that would sweep decisively them out of power. Biden’s allies meanwhile gained a seat in the Senate, allowing them to exercise complete control over the chamber and ending the narrow 50-50 majority they navigated for the past two years. The president will be speaking to this new configuration tonight.
Biden gave last year’s speech at a time when his legislative agenda appeared deadlocked by his inability to win the votes of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, two Democratic senators who had refused to go along with many of his demands. Months later, the lawmakers signed on to the Inflation Reduction Action, a more limited piece of legislation than the White House wanted but which nonetheless represents Washington’s first major legislation against climate change. This blog will eat its hat if Biden doesn’t mention the bill in his speech.
Seated behind Biden tonight will be Kevin McCarthy, the speaker of the House elected after a history-making 15 rounds of balloting by his fractious Republican majority. He replaced Nancy Pelosi, who as Democratic speaker made all kinds of news during her two stints as the second-in-line to the presidency. Here’s one relevant to today: that time in 2020 when she tore up Donald Trump’s State of the Union address shortly after he finished giving it.
Biden to give State of the Union speech as 2024 decision nears
Good evening, US politics blog readers, and thanks for joining us for our coverage of Joe Biden’s annual State of the Union address. At 9 pm eastern time, the president will take the stage before Congress, supreme court justices, cabinet secretaries and guests from across the country to make the case that things are looking up for the United States. But as the Guardian’s Lauren Gambino and Joan E Greve reported earlier today, many Americans hold gloomy impressions about the state of the nation – just look at the mere 21% who have a positive view of economic conditions. Looming over Biden’s speech is the big question the president has yet to answer: will he run for a second term in 2024? Don’t expect an answer tonight, but it’s possible he’ll give hints of which way he’s leaning.
But first, a rundown of what happened today so far:
Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell said the central bank may have to keep raising interest rates to fight inflation, a decision with effects that will ripple across the country and into Americans’ bank accounts.
Dozens of George Santos’ constituents traveled to the Capitol from suburban New York City to demand he resign for lying his way into Congress.
Republican House speaker Kevin McCarthy has reiterated his demand that Biden agree to cut spending in exchange for increasing the debt ceiling, a vital piece of business Congress must agree to do in the coming months.