Updated Mar 7, 2024 - Politics & Policy

What to expect at Biden's State of the Union

President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with his Competition Council in the State Dining Room of the White House on March 5, 2024 in Washington, DC. Biden announced new economic measures during the meeting. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

President Biden at the White House on March 5 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Nathan Howard/Getty Images

President Biden's State of the Union address on Thursday is his chance to deliver a winning message to the American people and convince them he's exhilarated for another term.

The big picture: The State of the Union is the president's most high-profile annual address, and is especially consequential this election year as it's his biggest opportunity to reset and shift public perceptions.

  • "It's going to be a moment that's incredibly important to him," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday. "He's looking forward to ... talking about the accomplishments that he's made the last three years and also the vision that he has for this country."

Where can I watch the speech?

The White House will stream the speech at wh.gov/sotu.

  • It's scheduled to start at 9pm ET and Biden is expected to speak for just over an hour.

What Biden is expected to highlight

The president is expected to highlight his existing "historic" accomplishments on issues ranging from infrastructure spending to scrapping junk fees, Axios' Alex Thompson reports.

  • "The president will talk about whose side he is on and the work ahead to make life better for every American," a White House official told Axios last week.
  • The speech will cover "making the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share," "saving our democracy," and a "unity agenda" that includes curbing fentanyl, helping veterans and ending cancer.
  • Biden will also admit that inflation is still too high in some areas — but make the case that things were worse under former President Trump, Axios' Mike Allen and Zachary Basu report.

Who is giving the Republican response?

Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) is expected to give the GOP rebuttal to Biden's address.

  • Britt, who was elected in 2022, was cast into the spotlight after coming out out against the Alabama Supreme Court's ruling last month that frozen embryos should be considered children.

Why it matters: The Republican Party's response to Biden's speech is a key opportunity for the party to rebuke him and his messaging in an election year.

Who is the designated survivor?

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona was appointed designated survivor on Thursday evening.

  • The designated survivor is a member of the President's cabinet who is moved away from the speech location, and must be ready to assume the duties of president in case of an attack on the SOTU site that incapacitates the president and other officials in the line of succession.
  • The Labour Secretary Marty Walsh was named designated survivor last year.

Who are the special guests invited to attend?

Biden and members of Congress invite guests to the State of the Union to raise awareness for causes, policies and inspiring or tragic stories. Here's a look at some of them:

  • The president and first lady Jill Biden invited Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, but she is unable to attend, per the White House.
  • Kate Cox, a Texas mother forced to seek an emergency abortion outside of the state, has accepted the first lady's invitation to attend — as has Latorya Beasley, an IVF patient whose embryo transfer was abruptly canceled due to last month's Alabama Supreme Court decision.
  • United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain, who endorsed Biden after the president joined UAW workers on the picket line during last year's historic automotive strikes, is another guest of the first lady.
  • House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has invited the parents of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who is imprisoned in Russia.
  • Johnson, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and other bipartisan members of Congress are jointly hosting 17 relatives of Americans killed or held hostage by Hamas.
  • Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) has invited Elizabeth Carr, the first person born via IVF in the U.S., in light of the Alabama ruling.

Go deeper: Poll: Majority of voters think Biden is too old for another term

Editor's note: This article has been updated with details of some of first lady Jill Biden's guests.

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