- Biden’s speech comes amid low approval ratings for the US president.
- Address offers Biden an opportunity to showcase accomplishments, experts say.
- Ukrainian ambassador to US joins First Lady Jill Biden in viewing box, among other guests.
- Biden earlier affirms support for Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy amid Russian invasion.
- Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds to deliver Republican response.
Here are all the latest updates:
Biden credit claims for US economic recovery
Biden touted his administration’s work with Congress to pass COVID-19 relief legislation and economic support for the US.
“The pandemic has been punishing. And so many families are living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to keep up with the rising cost of food, gas, housing, and so much more, ”Biden said.
“Because people were hurting. We needed to act, and we did, ”Biden said, claiming credit for creating 6.5 million new jobs in 2021 and boosting economic growth to the fastest level in 40 years.
Biden vows US will defend ‘every inch’ of NATO
Biden vowed, while the US would not send forces into Ukraine to confront the Russian military, the US would join with NATO allies to defend the alliance.
“Let me be clear, our forces are not engaged and will not engage in conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine,” Biden said. “Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine, but to defend our NATO Allies – in the event that Putin decides to keep moving west. Every single inch. ”
Putin is isolated, Biden says
Biden started his speech addressing the invasion of Ukraine. He voiced support for the Ukrainian people and talked up the sanctions by Washington and its allies against Moscow.
“Putin is now isolated from the world more than ever,” Biden said. “Together along with our allies, we are right now enforcing powerful economic sanctions. We are cutting off the largest banks from the international financial system. Preventing Russia’s central bank from defending the Russian Ruble, making Putin’s $ 630bn ‘war fund’ worthless. “
Ukrainian ambassador receives standing ovation from Congress
Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the US, received a standing ovation from the US Congress at the behest of Biden to show Ukraine “that we we the United States of America stand with the Ukrainian people”. Markarova is attending as a guest of First Lady Jill Biden.
US legislators do not wear masks at presidential address
With the Omicron variant fading and the lifting of mask mandates, the majority of legislators attending Biden’s address were not wearing masks. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) last week eased mask mandates for indoor spaces, marking a new turning point in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden arrives to deliver speech
Biden has arrived at the US Capitol to deliver his first State of the Union address. The US president was introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
For the first time in US history the president will be flanked by two women while delivering the annual address – Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris. Last year, Biden also delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress with the vice president and the House speaker behind him.
US lawmakers sport yellow and blue in support of Ukraine
Several US legislators from both major parties are wearing yellow and blue outfits, scarves and handkerchiefs – the colors of the Ukrainian flag – in an apparent message of solidarity with Ukraine. Biden left the White House and is set to arrive at the US Capitol shortly to deliver the speech.
Biden to focus on Ukraine, domestic achievements: Correspondent
Al Jazeera’s White House correspondent Kimberly Halkett, reporting from Congress, says Biden is expected to focus on the Russian assault on Ukraine during his speech, while also promoting his domestic policy achievements.
“We know that the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the Russian aggression that the United States has been so concerned about is expected to be one of the major features in this speech,” Halkett said.
On domestic issues, she said Biden would tout a massive infrastructure bill passed last year and how it “will create jobs for Americans, will lift up working families in the United States.”
Speech comes at ‘good time’ for Biden: Political scientist
Amid low approval ratings, the State of the Union will offer Biden a chance to highlight his accomplishments to a large audience, experts say.
“The [speech] comes at a good time, ”John Geer, a political scientist and an expert in public opinion at Vanderbilt University, told Reuters. “He needs to grab the national stage and set a course that offers a brighter future.”
Read more here.
Biden addressing nation amid low approval ratings
The United States president is delivering his first State of the Union address amid low approval ratings.
A CBS News poll conducted in late February and released on Tuesday showed only 44 percent of respondents approved of the job Biden is doing, with 56 percent disapproving. Approval for the president’s handling of the Ukraine crisis is even lower, at 41 percent.
What is the State of the Union?
The State of the Union is a constitutionally mandated annual statement that the US president must deliver to lawmakers, briefing them on the country’s state of affairs.
Early US presidents handed written speeches to legislators, but delivering the address to a joint session of Congress became a tradition over the past century.
President Harry Truman delivered the first televised State of the Union speech on January 6, 1947.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds to deliver Republican response
The opposition US political party traditionally outlines its own vision for the nation in a response to the State of the Union. On Tuesday evening, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is set to deliver a Republican rebuttal after Biden concludes his speech.
Biden affirms support for Ukrainian counterpart
Hours before taking the stage at the US Capitol, Biden spoke by phone to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“President Biden underscored the United States’ sustained help for Ukraine, including ongoing deliveries of security assistance, economic support and humanitarian aid,” the White House said in a statement describing the talks.
“The leaders discussed how the United States, along with Allies and partners, is working to hold Russia accountable, including by imposing sanctions that are already having an impact on the Russian economy.”
I just spoke with President Zelensky to discuss our continued support for Ukraine – including security assistance and humanitarian aid – as it defends itself against Russian aggression. We will keep Russia accountable, and our sanctions are already having a devastating impact. pic.twitter.com/9X9x07QbD0
– President Biden (@POTUS) March 1, 2022
Ukrainian ambassador joins US first lady for Biden’s address
Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the US, will be attending Biden’s speech as one of First Lady Jill Biden’s special guests, the White House said.
Other guests include medical workers, community organizers and teachers.
Welcome to Al Jazeera’s live coverage of President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address.