Washington — President Biden is set to deliver his State of the Union address in front of a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, where he will lay out his agenda for the coming year and tout his administration’s economic successes while attempting to seek common ground with Republicans on a series of issues.
CBS News will air the State of the Union as a special report, anchored by “CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell. The speech begins at 9 p.m. ET and will be streamed for free online on the CBS News streaming network.
Mr. Biden’s address comes amid widespread uncertainty at home and abroad, fueled by fluctuating economic indicators, ongoing instability over Russia’s war in Ukraine and heightened tensions with China. A new CBS News poll released Tuesday showed many Americans are still anxious about inflation and the economy, and a nearly half say Mr. Biden’s policies are making their own families’ finances worse.
Outgoing National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said Monday that the president will try “to put in context the progress that we have made” on the economy while acknowledging that “we have more work to do to bring prices down, lower costs, and create some breathing room, as he says, for American families.”
White House aides said Tuesday that the president will also highlight his four-part “unity agenda” that he introduced during last year’s State of the Union address, which includes overcoming the opioid epidemic, fighting cancer, supporting veterans and improving mental health care.
The president will announce efforts to disrupt the trafficking, distribution and sale of fentanyl and work with Congress to ensure tough penalties for fentanyl suppliers, the aides said. A father whose daughter died of a fentanyl overdose is attending the speech as one of first lady Jill Biden’s guests.
The White House said Mr. Biden will also urge Congress to reauthorize the National Cancer Act to boost funding for research and care centers, a key issue for the president, whose son died of brain cancer in 2015.
Mr. Biden will discuss how the Department of Veterans Affairs is working to help prevent veteran suicides. More than 71,000 veterans have died by suicide since 2010, the White House said, and the VA is working to expand the number of specialists who can support them.
On mental health, the president will call for bipartisan support to ban targeted online advertising aimed at young people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will also launch a campaign to provide mental health resources for health care organizations to support their workforces. The president will discuss how to better connect more Americans to health care coverage, including with more than $280 million in grants the Department of Education will give to high-need districts to increase the number of mental health professionals in schools.
The speech comes days after the government said the U.S. added a stunning 517,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rate ticked down to 3.4%, the lowest rate since 1969. Mr. Biden will likely bring up the strong jobs numbers during his address, touting them as a sign that the economy continues to grow even as inflation begins to recede.
“It’s not just that we’ve seen the labor market improve this quickly, it’s not just that we’ve seen household balance sheets come out of a crisis in a stronger position than any modern prior recovery, but also the equitable nature of that,” Deese said.
The State of the Union comes amid heightened tensions with China following the intrusion of a suspected spy balloon over U.S. skies last week that U.S. fighter jets eventually shot down off the coast of South Carolina. China has said the balloon was a civilian vessel and has denounced the use of force. The discovery of the balloon caused Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone a planned trip to Beijing.
Mr. Biden is also expected to mention the ongoing standoff over raising the debt ceiling. Last week, Mr. Biden had his first formal meeting with new Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who said after the meeting that the two focused on the debt limit and spending.