State of the Union: Biden to reflect on COVID, Jan. 6, call democracy ‘bruised’ but ‘unbroken’
President Joe Biden is set to deliver his second State of the Union address Tuesday night, in which he is expected to tout the economic progress made under his administration, and reflect on the COVID pandemic and the Capitol riot of Jan. 6, 2021, while calling democracy ‘bruised’ but ‘unbroken.’
Since last year’s address, his administration has been faced with a growing migrant surge at the southern border, gasoline prices hit an all-time record, inflation reached a 40-year-high, continuing supply chain issues led to a nationwide shortage of baby formula, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has escalated with no end in sight.
The president’s 2023 address also comes as he is under special counsel investigation for his improper retention of classified records from his time as vice president under the Obama administration, and it is just weeks after the FBI searched his homes for additional documents with classification markings.
Perhaps most notably, the president’s State of the Union address also comes just days after an Air Force F-22 fighter jet shot the Chinese spy balloon down off the coast of South Carolina.
Senior U.S. defense officials said the spy balloon was launched from China on Jan. 21 and crossed into Alaska on Jan. 28. It entered the continental United States through northern Idaho on Jan. 31 and was spotted across several states, including near a handful of military bases, before it was finally shot down on Saturday.
And a senior administration official told Fox News that another Chinese spy balloon crashed near Hawaii just four months ago.
But on Tuesday night, Biden is expected to tout the progress made under his administration, specifically with regard to the economy and COVID.
‘The story of America is a story of progress and resilience…We are the only country that has emerged from every crisis stronger than when we entered it. That is what we are doing again,’ Biden is expected to say, according to prepared remarks.
‘Two years ago our economy was reeling. As I stand here tonight, we have created a record 12 million new jobs – more jobs created in two years than any president has ever created in four years. Two years ago, COVID had shut down our businesses, closed our schools, and robbed us of so much,’ Biden is set to say. ‘Today, COVID no longer controls our lives.’
Biden is also expected to reference the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
‘And two years ago, our democracy faced its greatest threat since the Civil War,’ Biden will say. ‘Today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken.’
Biden is set to lay out his economic plan, which he will say is ‘about investing in places and people that have been forgotten.’
‘Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back because of the choices we made in the last two years,’ Biden is expected to say. ‘This is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America and make a real difference in your lives.’
Biden is expected to call on his ‘Republican friends,’ calling for bipartisanship in the new Congress.
‘The people sent us a clear message,’ he will say. ‘Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict, gets us nowhere.’
Biden is set to double down on his ‘vision for the country,’ which he says is ‘to restore the soul of the nation, to rebuild the backbone of America: the middle class, to unite the country. We’ve been sent here to finish the job!’
During his address Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET, a White House official said the president plans to ‘outline the progress made on maintaining international alliances to defend Ukraine, compete with China and assert American leadership in the world.’
But when asked whether the president would focus specifically on the threat China poses to U.S. national security and on the Chinese spy balloon, the official said Biden’s remarks ‘of course’ will ‘always take into account what’s happening in the world and how we meet the moment we’re in.’
‘But you will hear the president speak to his continued and successful effort to reassert America’s leadership around the world,’ the official said.
A White House official said Biden plans in his speech to underscore the ‘significant progress’ made under his administration during ‘one of the most challenging periods in our history’ as well as ‘the progress the American people want us to make by working together in the year ahead.’
Biden is expected to outline how he has ‘carried out his vision for an economy that grows from the bottom up and middle out instead of from the top down,’ the official said, adding that he will focus on progress made through ‘historic job growth, falling inflation, higher wages and record investments coming back to America.’
‘He will highlight the progress we have already made – and will keep fighting to make— on these and other commitments and priorities, illustrating in real terms how transformational his pieces of legislation are for Americans across the country,’ the official said.
But inflation has remained a key concern of Americans since Biden’s last State of the Union speech. In June, months after the address, inflation surged 9.1% year-over-year, the fastest uptick of its kind since 1981.
Rising consumer prices have impacted nearly every aspect of Americans’ lives from energy and food to shelter, apparel and everyday goods. While inflation has fallen below 7%, it remains far higher than government targets, and the Federal Reserve has continued tightening interest rates, which could have negative reverberations throughout the U.S. economy.
Energy prices like heating and gasoline costs have particularly put more strain on American families. Pump prices increased past $5 per gallon in mid-June, hitting their highest level ever recorded before falling again, but they currently remain 46% higher than when Biden took office.
Part of the pressure on energy costs has come as a result of Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, another crisis of which Biden has been faced. Biden has repeatedly stood alongside other Western nations in supporting Ukraine, sending the war-torn country tens of billions of dollars in military aid over the past nearly 12 months.
White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said Biden will lay out ‘a very clear and detailed plan’ to reduce the deficit and will ‘look for every opportunity when it comes to the economy and economic policy to reach out and work with Democrats and Republicans to find practical paths forward.’
Biden last week met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy for the first time since he took the gavel, and the Republican House speaker said he saw an ‘opportunity to come to an agreement’ on the debt ceiling.
Biden’s speech also comes amid a worsening crisis at the U.S. southern border.
Sources told Fox News that nearly 300,000 illegal immigrants are known to have slipped past overwhelmed Border Patrol agents since the beginning of fiscal 2023, which began in October.
While Biden’s approval ratings have increased from 40.6% to 43.9% since his last State of the Union, his approval dropped to 36.8%, its lowest level, in July 2022, according to an average of polling data compiled by Real Clear Politics.
Fox News’ Thomas Catenacci and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.