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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed that Biden accepted the House speaker’s invitation, according to a statement issued by the administration late last week. It would be the first time Biden addressed a divided Congress as president and McCarthy’s first State of the Union address as speaker, following Republicans’ midterm wins in the House.
“We have received Speaker McCarthy’s kind invitation, and the president has accepted it and looks forward to delivering the State of the Union address on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023,” Jean-Pierre said in the statement.
In asking Biden to deliver the address, McCarthy wrote that “the new year brings a new Congress, and with it, a responsibility to work towards an economy that is strong, a nation that is safe, a future that is built on freedom, and a government that is accountable.”
“The American people sent us to Washington to deliver a new direction for the country, to find common ground, and to debate their priorities,” he added. “In that spirit, it is my solemn obligation to invite you to speak before a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, February 7, 2023 so that you may fulfill your duty under the Constitution to report on the state of the union. Your remarks will inform our efforts to address the priorities of the American people.”
During last year’s State of the Union address in March, Biden frequently made reference to the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines, and treatment. Biden also invoked the nascent conflict in Ukraine as it came just days after Russia invaded the country.
What Comes Next
Biden’s second State of the Union address will be held, as is the custom, in the House chamber. The GOP-controlled House, meanwhile, is expected to stymie Biden’s legislative agenda for the remainder of his first term in office, which ends in 2024. Earlier this year, Biden met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and expressed hope that some Republicans would work to pass legislation.
“We disagree on a lot of things,” Biden said about McConnell on Jan. 4. But, their recent work on infrastructure spending “sends an important message to the entire country: we can work together,” he added.
Issues such as combating the opioid epidemic could draw broad support. Both Republicans and Democrats will have to deal with the looming debt ceiling crisis, following a warning issued by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last week that her agency will have to take “extraordinary measures” while calling on both parties to pass a bill to raise the limit.
During the speech, Biden also is likely to tout what he describes are accomplishments over the past year including the passage of an infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act. House Republicans, however, have already targeted a provision that would fund the hiring tens of thousands of new Internal Revenue Service (IRS) workers over the next decade.
The House under McCarthy’s leadership is expected to launch a major budget-cutting initiative with a particular eye toward reining in the cost of the Social Security and Medicare retirement and health care programs. House Republicans also are poised to pursue various investigations involving the president, his family, and administration—coming after Biden’s lawyers confirmed that a range of classified documents were located at his office and home in the past week, triggering a Department of Justice special counsel investigation.
Biden is fresh off a trip to the U.S.–Mexican border, where the influx of illegal immigrants has Republicans eager to legislate tougher security measures. Some congressional Democrats have expressed a willingness to trade new border controls for granting a pathway to citizenship for certain people brought illegally into the United States when they were minors.
Reuters contributed to this report.
By Jack Phillips