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Democrats to wear crayons lapel pins to highlight lack of affordable childcare

A group of House and Senate Democrats plan to wear crayons as lapel pins to the State of the Union address to show their support for increased childcare funding.

The effort is spearheaded by Sen. Patty Murray, Wash., who chairs the powerful Appropriations Committee and has spent years pushing for more federal assistance for childcare.

Murray’s guest at Biden’s speech is Angélica González, a mother of five who “has long struggled to find and maintain reliable, quality, affordable child care,” Murray tweeted Tuesday.

Among the lawmakers who will be sporting Murray’s crayon pins to the speech is Sen. Jack Reed, R.I.

— Christina Wilkie

Sanders to take on ‘wokeism’ and Big Tech in GOP response

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks to the media in the White House driveway after appearing on a morning television show on December 18, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Mark Wilson | Getty Images

Conservative culture wars against “wokeism” and “Big Tech” will be front and center in the Republican response to Biden’s State of the Union address, according to advance excerpts of Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s speech.

“In the radical left’s America, Washington taxes you and lights your hard-earned money on fire, but you get crushed with high gas prices, empty grocery shelves, and our children are taught to hate one another on account of their race, but not to love one another or our great country,” Sanders will say.

Sanders, a rising star in the GOP, will try to flip the perception that Republicans are too “extreme,” a perception that hurt GOP candidates in the 2022 midterm elections.

Democrats are the party pushing “crazy” ideas, Sanders will argue, while Republicans are the party of “normal.”

“Every day, we are told that we must partake in their rituals, salute their flags, and worship their false idols,” she will say. “That’s not normal. It’s crazy, and it’s wrong.”

There is no set time for the speech to start. Sanders will begin immediately after Biden is finished.

— Christina Wilkie

Republicans attack Biden on inflation, crime, border issues before his address

The Republican National Committee lashed out at Biden ahead of the state of the union address, blaming him for a slew of issues and preemptively dismissing his “excuses.”

“The state of the union is weaker and American families are suffering because of Joe Biden,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement Tuesday morning.

“There is a reason Republicans took back the House, and that’s because of speeches like tonight where Biden will ignore and deflect blame for inflation, rising crime, and a border crisis he created. Americans deserve solutions, but all they’ll hear from Biden are excuses,” McDaniel said.

Kevin Breuninger

Speaker McCarthy warns House members not to pull any stunts during Biden’s speech

U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) listens to a question during a news conference in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. February 2, 2023. 

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said members of his GOP caucus will not disrupt Biden’s address with political stunts, which have become more common in recent years.

“We’re members of Congress. We have a code of ethics of how we should portray ourselves but also do our jobs and that’s exactly what we’ll do,” McCarthy told CNN. “But we’re not going to be playing childish games, tearing up a speech. That’s just a political ploy”

McCarthy was referring to his predecessor, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who infamously tore her copy of then-President Donald Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address in two, moments after Trump finished speaking, as they both stood on the dais with cameras rolling.

Yet even as McCarthy chided a Democrat in public, privately, he warned his occasionally rowdy caucus to be on their best behavior tonight. “Cameras are on” and the “mics are hot” he House Republicans during a closed door meeting earlier in the day, NBC News reported.

— Christina Wilkie

Bright spots in the economy clouded by high inflation, divided Congress

US President Joe Biden speaks about the economy in the South Court Auditorium at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2023.

Andrew Caballero-reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

Though Biden is likely to tout the accomplishments he’s made on the economy, the broader picture is more complicated.

The U.S. economy is in an overall delicate state. Several key indicators such as unemployment, at a nearly 54-year low, and GDP show signs of robust growth, but inflation is still at a four-decade high and the Federal Reserve raised rates eight times over the last year in pursuit of an elusive soft landing to avert a recession.

This also comes as the president faces a divided Congress for the first time in his tenure now that Republicans have gained control of the House. Passing his agenda, or anything at all, will prove to be difficult.

Read More: Biden to deliver State of the Union address amid high inflation and divided Congress that threaten to derail economy

Emma Kinery

Biden has limited options to support abortion access after losing the House

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on abortion rights in a speech hosted by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) at the Howard Theatre in Washington, October 18, 2022.

Leah Millis | Reuters

When Biden delivered his last State of the Union speech, abortion was protected as a constitutional right for all women in the U.S. through 50 years of Supreme Court precedent.

But the high court’s conservative majority, established during the Trump administration, abolished those protections last June when it overturned Roe v. Wade, further dividing an already deeply polarized country.

Abortion is now basically banned in a dozen states, forcing women to cross state lines to access the procedure. While these bans make exceptions for when the patient’s life is in danger, some do not allow abortion in cases of rape and incest.

Now, physicians who oppose abortion are asking a federal court in Texas to pull the abortion pill, the most common way to terminate an early pregnancy, from the U.S. market.

The White House has promised to protect women crossing state lines to access abortion, but as barriers to access mount activists are calling on the administration to do much more, including declaring a public health emergency.

But the White House has shied away from such an extraordinary measure over concerns that it would not withstand court challenges. The battle is now in the states and it’s unclear what else the administration will do to support activists at the local level.

— Spencer Kimball

Jan. 6 survivor Sgt. Aquilino Gonell to attend address as Pelosi’s guest

U.S. Capitol Police sergeant Aquilino Gonell Gonell speaks about how he has repeatedly taken an oath as an American citizen to protect the US constitution as he testifies during the opening hearing of the U.S. House (Select) Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 27, 2021. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/Pool


Former Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, the officer who defended the U.S. Capitol against insurgents on Jan. 6, 2021, and testified during the House hearings on the attempted insurrection, will attend the State of the Union as a guest of Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi.

Born in the Dominican Republic, Gonell was injured during the attack on the Capitol. He and several other officers were thrust into the national spotlight after offering testimony about the riot during the House Jan. 6 hearings. Gonell received the Presidential Citizens Medal from Biden in January.

“Sergeant Gonell’s personal story is one of duty and determination: coming to America as a young child, overcoming adversity and discrimination, and defending our Democracy in the Armed Forces and in the Capitol Police force,” Pelosi said in a statement. “An immigrant, a veteran and a patriot, Sergeant Gonell truly embodies the best of America.”

Pelosi stepped down as House Speaker in November, weeks after her husband, Paul Pelosi, was brutally attacked by an assailant at the couple’s California home. Paul Pelosi is also expected to attend the address.

—Chelsey Cox

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will deliver the GOP response to Biden

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former Trump White House press secretary, addresses the America First Policy Institute’s America First Agenda Summit at the Marriott Marquis on Tuesday, July 26, 2022.

Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will deliver the Republican response immediately following Biden’s State of the Union address.

Sworn into office less than a month ago, Sanders is the youngest governor in the nation and widely considered a rising star in the GOP.

While Sanders, 40, may be young for a governor, she is a veteran in national politics.

The daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders became a household name in 2017, when she was named White House Press Secretary under then-President Donald Trump. There, she vigorously defended some of Trump’s most controversial policies.

“It’s hard to find a single thing that the Biden administration has done that has been positive,” Sanders said in a State of the Union teaser video released Monday by the Republican Governors Association.

“I am looking forward to rising to the moment, to doing great things for our state, and joining in a coalition of strong, conservative governors across the country,” said Sanders.

— Christina Wilkie

Parents of Tyre Nichols to sit in Jill Biden’s box a month after his beating by police and amid calls for reform

RowVaughn Wells, mother of Tyre Nichols, a young Black man who was killed during a traffic stop by Memphis police officers, reacts during a news conference at Mt. Olive Cathedral CME Church in Memphis, Tennessee, January 27, 2023.

Alyssa Pointer | Reuters

The parents of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who died after being beaten by police officers in Memphis, Tenn. last month, will attend the tonight’s State of the Union address as guests of first lady Jill Biden.

RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, Nichols’ mother and stepfather, will sit in Biden’s box exactly one month to the day since their son was stopped by police for alleged reckless driving. The altercation escalated with police officers brutally beating Nichols who died from his injuries three days later.

The incident is the latest example in a series of killings of Black men at the hands of police, often over minor allegations. Biden took office nearly a year after police in Minneapolis, Minn. killed another unarmed Black man, George Floyd, sparking protests across the nation and cries for change.

“President Biden has made clear that we must take action to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again,” read a White House statement announcing the guests.

Congress was unable to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act when Democrats had majorities in both the chambers; the bill passed the House but failed in the Senate. With the House in Republican control, the chances of its passage are less likely, even as public pressure mounts for action.

Biden met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus last week to discuss moving forward with legislation. Members of the CBC urged Biden in the meeting to use his State of the Union speech to advocate for reform. Nichols’ parents were already expected to attend after being invited as guests of CBC Chair Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev.

Emma Kinery

DNC chair Harrison says Biden ‘has delivered for the American people’ on jobs

44-year-old South Carolina Democrat Jaime Harrison wants to take Lindsey Graham’s U.S. Senate seat “blue” and says his home state needs leaders in Washington who “understand the challenges of the 21st century.”

Saul Loeb | AFP via Getty Images

The chairman of the Democratic National Committee said Biden, despite mediocre public approval ratings, has “a lot to be proud of … a lot to sell” going into the State of the Union.

“Accomplishment after accomplishment after accomplishment, this president has delivered for the American people,” DNC Chair Jaime Harrison said during an interview on MSNBC when host Joy Reid asked about Biden’s poll numbers.

Under Biden, more American jobs have been created in the past two years “than any other president has created in four years,” Harrison said.

“We just need to make sure that we get out there to sell this so they understand it, that they see the whole breadth of all of this,” Harrison said.

DNC senior advisor Cedric Richmond pushed the theme of the president’s jobs record during an interview on CBS News.

Richmond said the State of the Union gives Biden an opportunity “to remind the American people that unemployment is at its lowest rate since 1969.”

“He gets to talk about all of those accomplishments which people didn’t think he could accomplish – the infrastructure bill, beating the gun lobby and enacting sensible gun reform – and then he gets to talk about what the next few years will be about,” Richmond said.

— Dan Mangan

Sen. Elizabeth Warren invites child care advocate to State of the Union

US Senator Elizabeth Warren addresses the public during a rally to protest the US Supreme Courts overturning of Roe Vs. Wade at the Massachusetts State House in Boston, Massachusetts on June 24, 2022.

Joseph Prezioso | AFP | Getty Images

Child care advocate and nursing student Eugénie Ouedraogo will attend the State of the Union as a guest of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

A native of Burkina Faso, Ouedraogo and her family immigrated to the U.S. in June 2017, when she enrolled her children in Triumph, Inc. Head Start in Taunton, Massachusetts while she attended nursing school. She met Warren, D-Mass., in 2021 during a roundtable discussion at the school, where Ouedraogo is on the Policy Council.

“I’m grateful to have Eugénie join me at the State of the Union this year,” Warren said. “Eugénie and I both know firsthand what it’s like to struggle with finding child care while pursuing an education, which is exactly why I’ve been fighting for years to ensure child care is more affordable and accessible for all.”

Warren has consistently promoted universal child care. Childcare proposals were stripped from the final version of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.

— Chelsey Cox

Biden to ask Republicans to work together

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 Biden will appeal to Republicans to work together as he enters the second half of his term, highlighting the country’s economic growth in the first two years of his administration after the coronavirus pandemic shut down large swaths of society.

“The story of America is a story of progress and resilience,” reads an excerpt from Biden’s speech released by the White House ahead of his address. “We are the only country that has emerged from every crisis stronger than when we entered it. That is what we are doing again.”

Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress in Biden’s first two years in office, but he now faces a divided legislature after Republicans gained control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections.

“To my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last Congress, there is no reason we can’t work together in this new Congress,” Biden will say. “The people sent us a clear message. Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict, gets us nowhere.”

But Republicans, as Biden will allude, did not win by the historic margins projected. Polls after the election show Americans are frustrated by the gridlock in Washington and Biden will play on that sentiment to push for compromise.

“We’ve been sent here to finish the job!” he will say.

Emma Kinery

The security fence encircling the Capitol has become a political flashpoint

Workers install security fencing around the U.S. Capitol February 6, 2023 in Washington, DC. Security fencing has been installed as part of enhanced security measures ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday evening.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Biden will deliver his State of the Union address in a Capitol complex that is encircled by an 8 foot-tall black fence that was erected over the weekend.

Along the fence there are signs that read, “Area closed by order of the United States Capitol Police Board.”

The Capitol is seen behind a fence and a sign, in Washington, U.S., January 15, 2021.

Joshua Roberts | Reuters

To Washington residents and congressional aides, the fencing is a visceral reminder of the deadly mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. In the wake of the attack, the Capitol was fenced off for a month.

Two years later, a growing number of Republicans in Congress oppose the use of perimeter fencing for high security events, including the newly minted House speaker, Kevin McCarthy.

A U.S. Capitol police officer and his dog patrol the grounds of the Capitol, where tomorrow night U.S. President Joe Biden will deliver his the State of the Union Address, in Washington, February 6, 2023.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

“I don’t think [the fencing] is the right look, there’s not a need” for it, McCarthy told CNN Tuesday. “You’ve got all the intel out there that there’s no problem whatsoever,” he said.

Threats against members of Congress have more than doubled since 2017, according to reports produced by the U.S. Capitol Police.

— Christina Wilkie

Biden to call for ‘billionaire tax’ in laying out economic policy for 2nd half of term

US President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony at the White House marking the two-year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.

Ting Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Biden will use his address to broadly sketch out his administration’s economic policy goals for the second half of his term, including a plan to reduce the deficit with a minimum tax on billionaires.

Biden “will show the country a blueprint for how to sustain the manufacturing and jobs boom his agenda is fueling, keep fighting inflation and cutting costs, protect Medicare and Social Security, and continue bringing down the deficit by having the wealthy and big corporations pay more of their fair share,” spokesman Andrew Bates wrote in a memo to reporters.

The memo also lashed out at Biden’s political rivals, contrasting the president’s goals with those of the new House Republican majority. Bates accuses the congressional Republicans of “selling out working people” in favor of the rich, big corporations and special interests.

He also knocks the GOP for “proposing multiple extreme national abortion bans in just their first month controlling the chamber.”

Biden’s “blueprint” of proposals, according to Bates, will include reducing the deficit through a billionaire tax as well as a tax on corporate stock buybacks. Biden will also advocate for expanding a $35 cap on the price of insulin, which went into effect this year for seniors on Medicare.

The president’s plans are presented as a way “to finish the job he started in the first two years of his term.” Biden, who at 80 is the oldest president to hold the office, has not said if he will run again in 2024.

Kevin Breuninger

Powell says Fed can’t save economy if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference after a Federal Open Market Committee meeting on January 29, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Samuel Corum / Getty

Ahead of Biden’s speech, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told a crowd at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. that the central bank can’t save the U.S. economy if Congress fails to raise the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling.

The nation hit its statutory debt limit last month, but Republican lawmakers have held off on raising the limit in order to push for spending cuts. So far, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has been able to take steps to avoid default on U.S. bonds, and buy extra time.

Powell said there is only one way to resolve the issue. “This is something that Congress has to do,” he said.

The U.S. has never defaulted on its debt, and officials have said that doing so would have a severe economic and financial impact.

— Christina Cheddar Berk

Biden needs to explain how the U.S. will exit the Covid emergency without leaving people behind

Kevon Jaskin, a health care administer, stands for a photograph by a mobile coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing center on the Lower East Side of New York City, U.S., April 4, 2022. 

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

When President Biden delivers his address this evening, he will have to explain to the public how the U.S. plans to exit a three-year-long Covid emergency without leaving anyone behind.

The White House announced last week that the Covid public health emergency will end in May. The U.S. also plans to stop buying vaccines and antivirals and distributing them to the public for free as soon as this fall, shifting that task to the private sector.

But U.S. plans to manage the virus more like other seasonal respiratory diseases such as the flu, if not executed carefully, could leave behind even more inequality in a battered health-care system and among an exhausted public.

It’s true that the U.S. is in a stronger place in its fight against Covid today than the nation was during Biden’s last State of the Union in March 2022. At that time, the U.S. was emerging from the pandemic’s largest wave of infection due to the highly contagious omicron variant, which had caught the White House by surprise and upended its Covid response.

Although the virus is still spreading widely, deaths and hospitalizations have declined dramatically as vaccines and antiviral treatments have become widely available in the U.S. Weekly deaths have dropped 80% and hospitalizations are down 84% since the 2022 omicron peak.

But the virus is still killing more than 3,000 people a week as the U.S. transitions out of the emergency phase.

— Spencer Kimball

GOP Rep. Mary Miller to boycott Biden’s address

Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., announced she will boycott President Joe Biden’s state of the union address in protest of what she said were his “lies” while in office.

“I will not be attending Biden’s State of the Union to listen to him lie about the damage he has caused to our country while the left-wing media and members of Congress applaud his lies,” the second-term congresswoman said in a statement released Monday.

Miller is the only GOP lawmaker so far who said she won’t attend the address.

She accused Biden of lying about border security, inflation and the Justice Department “targeting parents for attending school board meetings.” Attorney General Merrick Garland has denied the latter claim and fact-checkers have labeled it as false.

Miller’s statement began with a seemingly unrelated reference to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tearing a paper copy of former President Donald Trump’s speech in 2020. “Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped up President Trump’s State of the Union Address, which celebrated a secure border, support for our military, and American energy independence,” Miller’s statement said.

Miller said she would give her guest ticket to former U.S. Air Force Col. Mark Hurley, “who retired from the military because of Biden’s unjust COVID vaccine mandate.”

Hurley said it was an honor to attend the speech and to personally thank Miller and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy for their work to end the Covid vaccine requirement for active-duty military, according to a statement.

Kevin Breuninger

Scrutinized Republican Rep. George Santos invites former firefighter as guest to State of the Union

U.S. Representative George Santos (R-NY) leaves the Longworth House Office building on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 31, 2023.

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

The heavily scrutinized Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., has invited a former firefighter to attend the State of the Union as his guest.

Michael Weinstock, the Democrat who once ran for Santos’ congressional seat, is set to attend the historic event as the controversial lawmaker’s guest.

Santos has seen a wave of criticism from Democrats and some Republican lawmakers for embellishing, or, in some cases, outright lying, about key elements of his resume.

One of Santos’ questionable claims is whether his own mother died during the Sept. 11 attacks.

NBC News reported that while Santos was running for Congress he tweeted that 9/11 claimed his mother’s life, while his campaign website previously noted “George’s mother was in her office in the South Tower on Sept. 11, 2001, when the horrific events of that day unfolded. She survived the tragic events on September 11th, but she passed away a few years later when she lost her battle to cancer.”

Yet, according to NBC News, records show Santos’ mother wasn’t in the United States at the time of the attack.

Santos recently chose not to serve on two House committees to which he was assigned until a slew of investigations into his campaign and personal finances have concluded.

— Brian Schwartz

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

#State #union #live #updates #Biden #call #higher #taxes #billionaires #stock #buybacks

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