The State of the Union address is an annual tradition in the US democracy, wherein the President delivers a message to the US Congress, describing in detail the condition of the nation, with key factors such as economy, health, administrative agendas, legislative changes and the President’s proposals being recurrent themes in the address each year.
Joe Biden’s upcoming address, on April 28, however is not precisely the State of the Union address. Biden, having spent roughly over 100 days in office, will be addressing what has been termed as a ‘Joint Session of Congress’ by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who officially invited Biden to speak at the event.
Reportedly, the State of the Union address is usually not given out by US Presidents in their first year of administration because of the perceived notion that they haven’t held office to be ably aware of the state of the nation.
There are, however, several key points one might expect from Biden during the address on April 28:
· COVID-19 response: Quite possibly the biggest elephant in the room in US at the moment, COVID-19 response, under the Biden administration, has seen a considerable upheaval, with vaccination constantly on the rise and cases coming down. Biden would likely not let go of the platform without summarising the response so far, while outlining strategies lying ahead for his government, through both legislative and medical channels.
· Economy: ‘Build back better’ was the Democrat’s catchline when he went up against former president Donald Trump, and economic revival, and seemingly, he has started acting on it. Weeks back, on March 31, Biden unveiled a huge $2 trillion plan to upgrade and overhaul the country’s infrastructure, including measures such as reportedly rebuilding 20,000 miles of roads, repairs to 10 most economically important bridges in US, as well as other measures to create a large number of jobs in coming years.
· Diplomatic hurdles: Whether it is Middle East or Afghanistan, key issues would likely find a place in Biden’s address. Withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and eventually leaving the country’s security responsibility on the Afghan forces, protests and unrest in Hong Kong, or the military rule in Myanmar are things the President could touch upon as international imperatives.
· Special guests: Last year, former president Donald Trump brought in a mother-daughter duo from Philadelphia as his special guests during his State of the Union address, as well as renowned radio personality and political commentator Rush Limbaugh. He presented a scholarship to the former as well. Biden, who will probably be bringing guests of his own, is yet to publicly confirm who it will be.
The event will see significant difference in arrangements, in contrast to previous years. A limited number of politicians will be allowed on the floor of the House.
Senators and Representatives will not be permitted to invite guests to the event either.