The State of the Union Address is part of the US President’s constitutional duties to keep the US legislative branches abreast of the current situation of the country.
United States President Joe Biden will address both chambers of the Congress — the House of Representatives and the US Senate — on February 8. The annual speech, known as the State of the Union Address, will see Biden talk about the state of the country’s economy and what his administration has managed to achieve in the past year.
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With the US staring at a recession and Biden continuing to get a low approval rating, the address will give him an opportunity to highlight all the good that he’s managed to achieve.
“Next week, I’ll be reporting on the State of the Union. But today, I’m happy to report that the state of the Union and the state of our economy is strong,” the US President said on Friday after a positive US jobs report.
What is the State of the Union Address?
The State of the Union Address is part of the US President’s constitutional duties to keep the US legislative branches abreast of the current situation of the country. The speech has information about the nation's budget, economy, news, agenda, progress, and achievements of the current administration. The speech also contains information about the legislative priorities of the president for the coming year.
The responsibility is enshrined in Article II, Section 3, Clause 1 of the US Constitution. “He (the president) shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient,” reads the article.
What are its significance and history?
The practice of delivering the address was started by the country’s first President, George Washington. The practice was continued by his successor, John Adams, who also gave the US Congress a joint address. The practice of giving the address in person was discontinued by the country’s third President, Thomas Jefferson, who found the practice too similar to the British monarchial traditions. Jefferson and subsequent presidents would instead send a written State of the Union report to the US Congress.
It was only in 1913 when Woodrow Wilson delivered the speech that the practice of the president addressing the two chambers of Congress personally was revived. In 1922, President Warren Harding's speech was the first to be broadcast on radio but not across the nation. President Calvin Coolidge's 1923 speech was the first to be broadcast across the country. Two decades later, President Harry S. Truman's 1947 speech was the first to be broadcast on television.
In contemporary times, the address is used by the president to set the tone for his political agenda for the coming year. The address, as is the case with most political theatres of its kind, also provides insights into the political situation at the top level. The event is also the time when the president has the most attention so it can serve as an important milestone for presidents to highlight their achievements and progress.
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