What to expect from Biden's first State of the Union address

Joe Biden.
(Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Looking to prep for Tuesday's big speech? Look no further. Here's everything to expect from President Biden's first-ever State of the Union address, beginning tonight at 9 p.m. EST:

A focus on foreign policy. Biden's speechwriters have revised the president's address to include remarks on the crisis currently dominating the world stage — the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The president will likely "describe the steps his administration has taken to threaten Russia's financial stability," NPR writes, and also focus on his "longtime theme of defending democracies," adds The Washington Post. Basically, expect Moscow talk to take up a lot of time.

More on Build Back Better. Biden's flagship piece of domestic legislation might be "dead" by some Democratic lawmaker's accounts (most notably West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin), but according to a White House preview of the president's speech, Biden will "reintroduce pieces of his domestic policy agenda," CBS News writes, and make clear there's more to be done "to rebuild the economy towards resilience, security, and sustainability," an official added.

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"What you can expect the president to lay out tomorrow is how his plan, the ideas he's put forward, lowers costs for families, can reduce the deficit and that it's time for Congress to act," an official told reporters, per CBS News.

A note on the economy. If you're hoping to hear Biden use the word "inflation" tomorrow, then you're in luck. According to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, the president will "absolutely" address the record levels of inflation plaguing American families, and will also spend time discussing his plan to cut costs. As for tone, writes The Wall Street Journal, Biden has generally shifted his message surrounding rising prices to one of empathy, assuring voters he understands the pain they're experiencing.

An update on COVID-19. It's no secret Americans are growing weary of the ongoing pandemic — so expect Biden to touch on a return to post-COVID normalcy, the relaxation of certain restrictions (like CDC mask guidance), and the apparent retreat of the Omicron variant, say both the Journal and NPR.

A nod to his Supreme Court nominee. The president last week announced his nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, thus fulfilling his pledge to elevate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. Per NPR, "Democrats hope the speech will provide a lift among their supporters going into the midterms."

A high-five for what's gotten done so far. It wouldn't be a State of the Union address without a little back-patting — and according to recent polls, Biden certainly needs some. Expect the president to spend time celebrating both his American Rescue Plan and his infrastructure law, as well as administration job initiatives, CBS News reports.

"The president is proud of the administration's progress to date," and will continue working to do more, an official added, per CBS News.

Biden's speech can be streamed live at WH.gov/sotu. After his remarks, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) will deliver a response on behalf of the Working Families Party, and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) will deliver the Republican Party's rebuttal.

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