Biden’s First Joint Address to Congress Still Not Scheduled

April 2, 2021 Updated: April 2, 2021

President Joe Biden’s first speech to a joint session of Congress is still not set, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.

The joint address typically takes place in February of each year and is known as the State of the Union address every year except a president’s first in office.

“Part of the decision in that regard is in the hands of the Capitol physician as well as the Sergeants-at-Arms,” Pelosi told reporters during a virtual briefing.

“So, in terms of how we can do that, and how many people can be in the room and this or that will be—hopefully the more people who get vaccinated, the more people we can have in the room. Some people have objections to vaccinations, which I hope that they can overcome in the very near future,” she added, referring to COVID-19 vaccines.

Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, said last month that the address would likely be scheduled “shortly after” the COVID-19 relief bill was passed by Congress and promoted by the president during a tour to various states. Biden signed the bill into law on March 11.

“I think we wanted to get through this rescue plan first and get it done and get it passed. Then we’re going to go to the country, we’re going to take a couple of weeks to really explain the plan,” Klain said. “I think shortly after that you’ll see him work with the Congress on a joint address that is appropriate for COVID and all of these other times we are living in.”

nancy pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 19, 2021. (Graeme Jennings/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Psaki touched on the matter on March 14, telling reporters in Washington that there was not an official date to share. She also claimed it was never planned for February, even though Biden had said he would deliver the speech that month.

On Thursday, Psaki indicated Biden may not deliver the address.

“He is definitely considering giving a joint session address. I can’t wait until we finally announce this because I know you all really want a date. We’re working with leaders in Congress to finalize that. I just don’t have a date quite yet for you,” she told reporters at the White House.

The president took over two months to hold his first press conference, finally engaging in an extended question-and-answer session on March 25. He met with his Cabinet in person for the first time on April 1. He is still not meeting with foreign leaders in-person, though Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government said Friday the official would visit Biden on April 16 and be the first foreign leader to meet with him in person.

Pelosi said that Congress “will be ready whenever the president is ready to come, and we’ll extend that invitation, which is the tradition.”

“It’s a collaboration. We don’t pick a date, and they don’t pick it. We do it together especially in a time of COVID. I mean, this is the first COVID. We had the state of the union last year as you may recall right before COVID. That was when I tore up the speech, the pack of lies. Remember that? But this is now this year,” she added.

“So, it will be soon—I hope—[and] participated in as safely possible. And our office will be in touch with them and we’ll [have a] —conversation about when that would be.

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