Wednesday night will mark the first time President Joe Biden speaks in front of both houses of Congress as he approaches his 100th day in office.
While Biden’s speech on the Congress floor will seem like the State of the Union, it actually is not.
The practice of addressing a joint session of Congress comes straight from Article II, Section 3 of the United States Constitution, which states the president, “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
The annual address is typically delivered by the president in late January or early February, with the last one given by former President Donald Trump on Feb. 4, 2020.
Since the inauguration of former PresideRonald Reagan in 1981, presidents have not delivered the State of the Union the year they left office or were inaugurated, primarily because a president can’t really speak about the state of the country just a few weeks in office.
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That same year is when the new tradition began where the new president addressed Congress without the State of the Union title, like Trump’s “Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress” in 2017.
Biden’s address comes a few months into his term due to COVID-19 precautions, and only after he accepted an invitation from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on April 13. Wednesday’s speech allows Biden to speak on the progress of his administration in his first nearly 100 days in office.
There will be other differences; only a few special guests are invited to the address and some members of Congress and the Supreme Court will not be present or seated in the House gallery due to social distancing guidelines. The event will also be designated as a National Special Security Event in wake of the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jord_mendoza.