State of the Union live updates: Biden to call for unity as he faces divided Congress, mixed economy and pressure from China
Yellen says Biden will tout economic recovery
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks about the latest jobs report in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on February 03, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images
President Joe Biden will highlight the positive job numbers and the nation’s continuing recovery from historic inflation during his address to Congress, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said.
“I know President Biden will talk about that … the unemployment rate is at a 53-year low of 3.4%,” Yellen told ABC’s George Stephanopolous on Monday. “Last month, we created over 500,000 jobs, more than 12 million since the President took office, and inflation is coming down.”
The projections are a welcome trend amid the worst inflation in 40 years. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 517,000 in January, eclipsing analysts’ estimates of 187,000.
Yellen attributed much of the economic turnaround to interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve; economic policies like the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and CHIPS and Science Act; the Biden administration’s efforts to lower soaring gas prices and a multinational decision to cap the price of Russian oil products.
— Chelsey Cox
Democrats will extend ‘open hand’ to GOP, but there should be ‘clean’ debt ceiling increase: Neguse
Congressional Democrats “will extend an open hand to the Republicans to try to work together” on legislation — but the GOP should agree to pass a “clean debt ceiling” increase without spending cuts, Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
Neguse said Democrats were ready to work with the Republican majority in the House “to lower costs, to build safer communities and to create better-paying jobs for the American people.”
But Neguse, who is part of the House Democratic leadership, criticized Republicans over their stance on the United States’ debt ceiling, which last month hits its statutory limit of $31.4 trillion. The U.S. is at risk of default on its loan obligations if the ceiling is not raised by June, when a series of extraordinary measures implemented by the Treasury Department to avoid such a fate are expected to stop working.
Neguse said that fiscal hawks who want to lower the U.S. debt and deficit by cutting government spending should address those areas “during the budget process.”
“It should not happen in putting the full faith and credit of the United States, a sacrosanct commitment and our status as the world’s reserve currency, potentially in peril. Which is what Republicans are doing right now,” he said.
“And I think that’s a dangerous game,” Neguse said. “We ought to do what we did during the Trump administration, which is a clean debt ceiling. The Republicans did that when they were in control of the House and Senate.”
— Dan Mangan
Biden’s speech is a preview to his 2024 reelection campaign
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks as he attends the DNC 2023 Winter Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., February 3, 2023.
Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters
Biden’s speech is expected to be seen as his blueprint for the 2024 campaign. The White House has repeatedly stated the president intends to run for another term, but he has yet to officially announce his plans.
The State of the Union gives him the opportunity to take a victory lap of the previous two years.
“You’ll hear the president trying to put in context the progress we’ve made,” outgoing National Economic Council Director Brian Deese told reporters Monday. “And speak to the work yet to come. The president uniquely understands that we have a lot more work to do when it comes to the economy, even as we’ve seen real progress.”
He will likely outline his successes to date from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to management of the coronavirus pandemic to his handling of the economy with recent unemployment numbers showing a nearly 54-year record low.
— Emma Kinery
White House guest list includes Ukraine ambassador, Paul Pelosi and Bono
Bono (Paul David Hewson), Irish singer-songwriter, activist, and the lead vocalist of the rock band U2, Antytila (C), a Ukrainian musical band leader and now the serviceman in the Ukrainian Army Taras Topolia, and guitarist David Howell Evans aka ‘The Edge’ perform at subway station which is bomb shelter, in the center of Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on May 8, 2022.
Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images
U2 frontman Bono, Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S. and a wide range of other guests will join first lady Jill Biden in the viewing box of the House chamber during President Joe Biden’s state of the union address.
Each of the group’s 27 members was selected “because they personify issues or themes to be addressed by the President in his speech, or they embody the Biden-Harris Administration’s policies at work for the American people,” the White House said.
Paul Pelosi, husband of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), arrives for a reception honoring Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his wife Mareva Mitsotakis in the East Room of the White House on May 16, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images
Among them is Paul Pelosi, the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who last year was attacked with a hammer by a person who broke into the couple’s San Francisco home. The attacker allegedly asked Paul Pelosi “where is Nancy?” during the incident, which the White House noted was similar to the shouts and chants of some pro-Trump rioters during the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol.
Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., will join the first lady for the second year in a row “in recognition of sustained U.S. support for Ukraine nearly a year after Russia launched its unprovoked attack,” the White House said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is greeted by Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova during a visit to Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family to show support for the Ukrainian people amid the ongoing Russian invasion, in Washington, U.S., March 2, 2022.
Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters
Bono, a longtime activist and lead singer of the world-famous rock band U2, was recognized by the White House for his work fighting HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty.
The first lady also invited Brandon Tsay, who disarmed the gunman suspected of carrying out a mass shooting in Monterey Park, Calif., during the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations there. Tsay, whose struggle with the gunman was captured on video, has been hailed as a hero and credited with preventing a potential second shooting.
Other guests include an immigration activist and DACA beneficiary, the father of a daughter who died of a fentanyl overdose at age 20, a woman suffering from breast cancer, and a mental health advocate.
Second gentleman Douglas Emhoff will also sit in the viewing box during Biden’s speech. Holocaust survivor Ruth Cohen, whom Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband met last year, is joining the group as Emhoff’s special guest, the White House said.
— Kevin Breuninger
Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova will join as a guest of first lady Jill Biden
U.S. first lady Jill Biden applauds her guest Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova in the first lady’s box as President Joe Biden welcomes Markarova during his State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the House of Representatives Chamber at the Capitol in Washington, U.S. March 1, 2022.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova, will attend the State of the Union for a second time as a guest of first lady Jill Biden.
Markarova joined the first lady in her viewing box last year and received a standing ovation after President Joe Biden called for a show of solidarity with Ukraine.
Markarova, who is Ukraine’s former Minister of Finance, has served as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s top diplomat in the United States since 2021.
— Amanda Macias
Biden to take aim a tech companies over privacy concerns
Twitter account of U.S. President Joe Biden is seen on a smartphone and a pc screen in the background.
Pavlo Gonchar | Getty Images
President Joe Biden will take aim at tech companies in his address tonight, calling for bipartisan support to ban targeted online advertising for America’s youth and demanding transparency about how tech companies collect Americans’ personal data, the White House said.
He will also argue it is the responsibility of companies, not consumers, to minimize the amount of information they collect.
The White House said social media companies often do not enforce their terms of service with respect to minors. Biden will discuss how his administration plans to build on the surgeon general’s youth mental health advisory, the Department of Health and Human Services’ new Center of Excellence on Social Media and Mental Wellness, and the Children and Media Research Advancement Act.
— Ashley Capoot
Biden ‘s speech will build on ‘Unity Agenda’ with focus on cancer research, vets, seniors, fentanyl
US President Joe Biden speaks at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) 2023 Winter meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 3, 2023.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images
President Joe Biden will lay out an expansion of his “unity agenda,” unveiling new policies aimed at ending cancer, supporting veterans and seniors, tackling mental health issues and cracking down on the opioid crisis, top White House aides said.
In a call previewing his second state of the union address, they touted the progress that the Biden administration has made on those issues since he announced the four-pronged unity agenda last year. Some of those accomplishments include signing into law a veterans’ benefits bill and the establishment of an agency dedicated to researching diseases including cancer.
The White House said Biden will build on the agenda in this year’s address, in part by calling on Congress to take a series of actions, including:
- Reauthorizing the National Cancer Act to update U.S. cancer research efforts
- Working to ban targeted advertising online for children and young people and enact protections for their online privacy and safety
- Imposing stricter limits on targeted advertising and personal data collection by Big Tech companies
- Permanently labeling all “fentanyl related substances” as Schedule 1 drugs — subject to the strictest regulations and penalties — in order to close a “loophole” exploited by drug traffickers
- Pass plans to expand housing access for low-income veterans, to be detailed in Biden’s forthcoming budget proposal
— Kevin Breuninger
U.S. faces threats from Russia, China
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping plan to meet next week in Uzbekistan at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization forum, a Russian official said on Wednesday.
Photo by Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images
Biden takes the podium tonight as Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine enters its second year with tens of thousands of casualties and no end in sight.
While Russia poses an urgent threat to world peace, China presents an even longer and trickier challenge to the United States.
This was compounded by the high-altitude Chinese surveillance balloon that moved over the United States in the last week before it was shot down by the U.S. military.
Biden will address the U.S.-China relationship in the speech, but he will not announce new retaliatory actions against Beijing over the balloon, White House aides told NBC News.
Following Biden’s address, Arkansas Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will deliver the GOP response to the speech. This will be followed by a Republican Spanish-language response, delivered by the newly elected Rep. Juan Ciscomani of Arizona.
— Christina Wilkie
The state of the union is ‘not great,’ GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says
US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks during a press conference in Statuary Hall at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 2, 2023.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
President Joe Biden is expected to lay out a hopeful and optimistic message in his address Tuesday night. But to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., America’s lingering inflation woes paint a more dire picture of the state of the union.
“It’s not great,” McCarthy, the top Republican in Congress, said Tuesday morning on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
“I mean, people are worried. Every breakfast, people used to have eggs and think it was no big deal, just some protein. Now it’s almost a specialty because the price is so high,” McCarthy said.
Americans are “worried about the fuel, they’re worried about their jobs,” he said, “and then when you look at the latest polling, they’re worried about the government.”
McCarthy chalked that trend up to the public perception that politicians are “just bickering back and forth and not solving problems.”
One way to counteract that, he argued, would be for both sides to engage in negotiations on raising the debt ceiling. Biden has taken a hard line against those proposed talks, vowing not to let the threat of a U.S. default be used as a “bargaining chip” for Republicans to try to cut spending.
“We need to do the most basic things. And what is that? Pass a budget,” McCarthy said on CNBC. “Not bickering about a debt ceiling but sitting down like adults and utilizing it to put us on a path to more fiscal responsibility.”
— Kevin Breuninger
Biden approval rating stands at 41% ahead of his address
U.S. President Joe Biden walks on the South Lawn after returning to the White House on Marine One on February 06, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images
Biden delivers his second State of the Union address with a 41% approval rating, higher than his predecessor Donald Trump but below that of the previous four presidents at the same time in office, according to Gallup data.
Trump’s approval rating sunk to 37% in January of his third year in office. At the same point in their terms, former presidents Barack Obama had 49%; George W. Bush 60%; Bill Clinton 47%; and George H.W. Bush 75% at the beginning of the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
The average for a president at this point in office is 54% approval, according to Gallup historic data. Biden’s highest approval rating was 57% shortly after he took office and again in April of his first year.
— Emma Kinery
McCarthy gives a formal defense of GOP stance on debt ceiling
Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy gave a formal speech Monday night on the debt ceiling, but one that echoed the style of a presidential State of the Union address.
“Good evening. I’m Kevin McCarthy. I have the honor of serving as the Speaker of the House. Tonight, however, I stand before you not only as the Speaker, I speak to you as a father,” McCarthy said at a lectern before a formal backdrop of American flags.
McCarthy defended House Republicans’ longstanding refusal to pass a debt ceiling increase the House unless they secure major federal spending cuts in return.
The Republican leader did not break any new ground in his remarks, but the prose and the pomp of the televised address were unmistakable.
Biden and McCarthy are currently engaged in the early phases of what is expected to be a months long negotiation on the debt ceiling vote.
— Christina Wilkie
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