How to Watch Biden’s Speech to Congress
The president will speak before a reduced crowd in an unusual first address reflective of the moment.,
The speech will be an unusual affair by historical standards.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, attendance will be slim, with only about 200 people allowed into the House chamber. Mr. Biden’s remarks are also expected to combine elements of the traditional first joint address and the State of the Union speech that presidents have typically made later in their tenures.
Still, Mr. Biden is expected to make a broad case for his administration’s goals that will inform debate in Congress in the weeks ahead.
Here’s what to expect:
How can I follow along?
Mr. Biden is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Wednesday. The New York Times will provide video coverage of the address along with live analysis and fact-checking.
The speech will also be streamed live on YouTube and C-SPAN.
Who will be present?
Taking into account pandemic protocols, Mr. Biden will speak before a reduced crowd of roughly 200 attendees, more than 80 percent smaller than in past years.
And because heightened security around the Capitol complex has remained in place since the Jan. 6 riot, those invited will not be permitted to bring guests.
With the House out of session this week, many lawmakers are not in Washington, and only a few from each party are expected to attend in person.
A number of prominent senators — including Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, and Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina — have indicated they will go.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is expected to be the only member of the Supreme Court in attendance.
Is this different from the State of the Union?
In recent years, a president’s first address to a joint session of Congress has had the trappings of a State of the Union speech, but it is not formally known as one. Just as with the State of the Union, a president uses his first address to promote his policy agenda, and Mr. Biden has no end of legislation to push for.
After working with Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill in March, Mr. Biden is now hoping to sell lawmakers on other similarly wide-ranging proposals, including a spending package focused on infrastructure and another on child care, community college tuition and paid family leave.
Separate from the first joint address, the Constitution states that 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.”
While it does not specify how early or often a State of the Union address should be delivered, many presidents have waited until later in their terms to do so.
Given that the United States is in the throes of a pandemic that has left deep scars on the economy, Mr. Biden is also expected to weave in an assessment of the country’s progress and his administration’s achievements since he took office in January.