State of the Union 2023: How to Watch Biden's Speech and What to Watch For
im LoScalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Joe Biden
President Joe Biden will deliver the second State of the Union address of his presidency on Tuesday evening, an event that comes as the president faces criticism over his handling of classified documents and as U.S.-China relations become a flashpoint.
The economy and foreign policy are expected to be overarching themes, particularly as the speech comes just days after the U.S. military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon hovering over the South Carolina coast.
Here's what else to expect from the annual speech, and how to watch it.
What time is the State of the Union?
The president will address a joint session of Congress at the United States Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, at 9 p.m. ET.
The White House will be streaming the speech live on its social media channels and on WH.gov/sotu.
C-SPAN's coverage will begin at 8 p.m., first with a preview of the event and after with the Republican response to Biden's speech (which will be delivered by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders).
NBC will also air the event at 9 p.m., while NBC News Now, the company's online streaming network, will air coverage from 8 p.m. until midnight. NBCNews.com, FoxNews.com, CBS News, CNN.com, ABCNews.com, NoticiasTelemundo.com, and CNBC.com will all be live-streaming the event.
Fox News Channel's coverage begins at 9 p.m. and will be followed by the response from Huckabee Sanders. MSNBC's, CNN's, and CBS News' prime-time coverage of the event begins at 8 p.m., while primetime coverage on ABC News and ABC News Live takes place from 9-11 p.m.
Who are the special guests?
First lady Jill Biden will welcome guests to join her and second gentleman Doug Emhoff in the viewing box. As she did last year, Dr. Biden has welcomed Ambassador of Ukraine Oksana Markarova as one of her guests — a nod to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
The White House announced that Dr. Biden has invited 20 other guests, including U2 frontman Bono; Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul Pelosi, who survived an attack at his San Francisco home last year; and Kate Foley, a tenth-grade computer-integrated manufacturing student at an Illinois high school.
Also among the first lady's guests are RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, the mother and stepfather of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old man who died after being beaten by Memphis police during a recent traffic stop. Nichols' death has sparked additional calls for police reform.
As is tradition, members of Congress can also bring along special guests to attend the speech.
Both California Rep. Judy Chu and President Biden himself have invited Brandon Tsay — who was hailed as a hero after disarming a man suspected of killing 11 people during a shooting in Monterey Park, Calif., last month — to attend the State of the Union.
Republican Rep. Greg Steube — the Florida lawmaker who was recently hospitalized after falling 25 feet from a ladder outside his home — invited the good samaritan who called 911 when he fell, while Democratic Rep. Cori Bush announced she invited Michael Brown Sr. — the father of a teenager who was shot and killed by a police officer in Missouri in 2014 — as her guest.
What will Joe Biden discuss?
While foreign policy always factors heavily into the State of the Union address, Tuesday's speech most certainly will, considering it comes just days after the U.S. shot down the alleged Chinese spy balloon on Biden's orders.
"I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down on Wednesday as soon as possible," Biden told reporters on Saturday. "They decided — without doing damage to anyone on the ground — they decided that the best time to do that was [when] it got over water, within a 12-mile limit. They successfully took it down, and I want to compliment our aviators who did it."
China has condemned the shooting of the balloon, calling it a "serious blow" to relations between the two countries, the Financial Times reports.
Republicans, meanwhile, have accused the administration of being weak toward China.
Shawn Thew - Pool/Getty State of the Union 2022
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Biden is also expected to devote at least some time to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, which began nearly one year ago and factored largely into his inaugural State of the Union in 2022.
February marks the one-year anniversary of Russia invading Ukraine, and the Biden administration has struggled to maintain support for defense spending from many in the Republican Party. Just last month, the administration announced additional security assistance for the country, part of a more-than $3 billion assistance package.
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The fiscal debt ceiling (the cap on the amount of money that the U.S. government can borrow to meet its existing legal obligations) is also expected to play a role in Tuesday's address.
The current debt threshold of $31 trillion has been met — leading to intense negotiations between Republicans and Democrats about how to avoid defaulting. Biden met with Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to discuss the debt limit, which Republicans have previously refused to raise without deep spending cuts.
But other aspects of the economic climate will likely be touted as success stories by the administration, which recently reported that inflation had eased for the sixth month in a row.
Other recent economic indicators — like unemployment falling to its lowest rate in 54 years last month — have also been touted as signs that the economy is strengthening.
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Additional topics that will likely be touched on include immigration and police brutality.
Biden has faced criticism from Republicans for an influx of migrants at the Southern U.S. border in recent months, but so far a bipartisan immigration reform bill has failed to materialize. Last month, the president noted the need for bipartisanship — a call to Republicans he may reiterate on Tuesday.
In his 2022 State of the Union speech, Biden made clear his stance against defunding the police. This year, in the wake of the death of Nichols while in police custody, he could take on a more somber tone.
Late last month, Biden called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a police reform bill that would make changes to qualified immunity for police officers, the criminalization of excessive use of force, create a database to track police misconduct and end racial and religious profiling, among other things.
"We must do everything in our power to ensure our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment, and dignity for all," Biden said. "Real and lasting change will only come if we take action to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again. That is why I called on Congress to send the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to my desk."
As with most State of the Union addresses, Biden's will likely be a recap of the year's successes — and a preview of what's to come, particularly as the president is reportedly planning to officially announce his 2024 campaign for office in the coming weeks.