The State of the Union Address is an annual message delivered by the President of the United States to the U.S. Congress at the beginning of each calendar year.
The State of the Union Address lays out the current condition of the nation
It typically includes reports on the nation’s budget, economy, news, agenda, achievements and the President’s priorities and legislative proposals.
The State of the Union Address fulfills the requirement in Article II, Section 3, Clause 1 of the Constitution that instructs the President to periodically “give to Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
During most of the country’s first century, Presidents primarily submitted only a written report to Congress.
After 1913, Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President, began the practice of delivering the address to Congress in person, as a way to rally support for their agenda.
With the advent of radio and television, the address is now broadcast live across the country on most networks, preempting scheduled programming.
Though the language of the clause is not specific, since the 1930s, American Presidents have made this report annually in late January or early February.
Between 1934 and 2013 the date has been as early as January 3 and as late as February 12.
While not required to deliver a speech, every President since Woodrow Wilson, with the exception of Herbert Hoover, has made at least one State of the Union report as a speech; delivered before a Joint Session of Congress.
Newly inaugurated Presidents generally deliver an address to Congress in February of the first year of their term, but this speech is not officially considered to be a “State of the Union.”
What began as a communication between President and Congress has become, in effect, a communication between the President and the People of the United States.
To reach the largest audience, the speech, once given during the day, is now given in the evening, after 9:00 p.m. ET.
George Washington delivered the first annual message on Friday, January 8, 1790,
in New York City, then the provisional capital of the United States.
The last annual message was delivered by President Donald J. Trump on Tuesday, February 4, 2020, in the House Chamber.
Is President Biden going cancel 230 years of crucial communication?
Is he, or is he not, going to deliver a State of the Union Address?