President Biden is set to deliver his State of the Union address in front of a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, where he will lay out his agenda for the coming year before a Republican-controlled House that is determined to thwart it.
CBS News will air the State of the Union as a special report, anchored by “CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell. The speech begins at 9 p.m. ET and will be streamed online on the CBS News streaming network.
Over the weekend, top Biden aides descended on Camp David to sharpen Mr. Biden’s address. The president tweeted a photo Monday morning showing a draft of the speech.
The State of the Union address comes amid heightened tensions with China, fueled by the intrusion of a suspected spy balloon over U.S. skies last week that U.S. fighter jets eventually shot down off the coast of South Carolina. China has said the balloon was a civilian vessel and has denounced the use of force. The discovery of the balloon caused Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone a planned trip to Beijing.
The White House had some positive headlines as the potential diplomatic crisis gripped Washington. The U.S. added a stunning 517,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rate ticked down to 3.4%, the lowest since 1969. Mr. Biden will likely bring up the strong jobs numbers during his address, touting them as a sign that the economy continues to grow even as inflation begins to recede.
Mr. Biden is also expected to mention the ongoing standoff over raising the debt ceiling. Last week, Mr. Biden had his first formal meeting with new Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who said after the meeting that the two focused on the debt limit and spending.
The Treasury Department in January implemented “extraordinary measures” to prevent the U.S. from a devastating default. The U.S. has until June before the government can’t pay its bills, but McCarthy and other Republicans have said they will not consider raising the nation’s borrowing limit unless Democrats also agree to cut spending.
Police reform is likely to be another topic the president discusses in his address. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last week that Mr. Biden told the family of Tyre Nichols, a Black man who died three days after being beaten by police during a traffic stop in Memphis in early January, that he will continue to push for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The Congressional Black Caucus is also pushing for Mr. Biden to move forward with police reform legislation.
The Congressional Black Caucus confirmed that Nichols’ family would be attending Mr. Biden’s address. The president spoke to Nichols’ family the day the Memphis police department released video of the violent arrest, and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at Nichols’ funeral.
Mr. Biden is also expected to rally support for Ukraine, as the one-year mark of the beginning of Russia’s invasion nears. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in December made his first trip outside of Ukraine to address a joint session of Congress as lawmakers considered additional aid for the war effort.
Mr. Biden could also bring up an assault weapons ban, something he has been pushing for since taking office and called for as recently as January. Last year, after mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, 10 Republican senators joined every Senate Democrat and the Democratic-led House in voting to pass gun control legislation that enhanced background checks for gun buyers under 21 years of age, and closed the so-called “boyfriend loophole” to prevent convicted domestic abusers from purchasing a firearm for five years. Mr. Biden quickly signed the bill into law.
Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy introduced a pair of gun control bills in January that would ban assault weapon sales and raise the age to buy an assault weapon to 21. Two progressive freshman House Democrats, Reps. Greg Casar of Texas and Maxwell Frost of Florida, have invited parents of victims of the Uvalde shooting and the 2018 Parkland school shooting to be their guests the State of the Union.
Since Mr. Biden has taken office, Democrats have gained a seat in the Senate, while Republicans took control of the House in November following the midterm elections. McCarthy has faced a divided Republican Party — needing 15 rounds of voting to secure the speakership — but managed to secure 218 votes last week to remove Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, now controlled by Republicans.
Mr. Biden is expected to announce his decision on whether he will run for president again in 2024 sometime after the address.