The presidential State of the Union address is more than a longstanding tradition or a sensible idea, but a Constitutional requirement. Article II states that the President of the United States must “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.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just invited President Joe Biden to deliver his first State of the Union on Tuesday, March 1. This date has been raising eyebrows because the State of the Union has been associated with January and Biden’s will be the latest scheduled State of the Union since 1934. However, the later date is about strategy and reality, and it is a clear indication of the Biden administration’s assiduousness and ambition in the new year.
As the Constitution does not set a date or even a month for the State of the Union, it makes sense to delay if an ongoing crisis is expected to improve. The omicron variant has recently brought record levels of new COVID-19 infections, overwhelming hospitals while creating widespread stress and uncertainty. Scientific experts believe the omicron surge will recede in the next month or so, which makes March 1 a sensible date for Biden’s landmark speech—not to mention a safer one for attendees.
There is also the matter of getting the Build Back Better bill passed. The fact that it did not happen in 2021 is frustrating, but a new year offers new opportunities and Democrats are not defeatists. In her letter, Pelosi thanked Biden for his “bold vision and patriotic leadership which have guided America out of crisis and into an era of great progress,” citing the recovery from the pandemic and Build Back Better as top concerns.
Pelosi continued: “Indeed, this past year has been historic: with the life-saving American Rescue Plan, once-in-a-century Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and, soon, the truly transformational Build Back Better Act!” Although some may say Pelosi is too optimistic, let us not forget how often she has proven that she knows exactly what she is doing. So, mark your calendars for March 1—and may Biden’s first State of the Union address reflect a nation that is accelerating on the road to historic and meaningful progress.