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State of the Union live updates and analysis: ‘Finish the job,’ Biden expected to say

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(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden delivers his second State of the Union address at 9 p.m. ET, marking a pivotal moment as he lays out not only his accomplishments and agenda, but makes the case for his leadership ahead of an expected announcement on whether he’ll run for reelection.

Unlike his first two years in office, Republicans now control the House of Representatives and Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who will sit behind the president for the first time, has threatened to block Biden’s agenda.

ABC News will broadcast special coverage and stream the address on ABC News Live. Partners at FiveThirtyEight will provide analysis in the live blog below during Biden’s speech.

Please check back for updates. All times Eastern.

Feb 07, 7:03 PM EST
Some of the guests who will attend Biden’s speech

Often, those invited to a president’s State of the Union address represent the topics he is expected to focus on during his remarks.

First lady Jill Biden’s office announced Tuesday morning who will join her in her viewing box at her husband’s speech later in the day.

She won’t be the only one bringing guests. Here’s a look at some of the notable names:

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff will join Jill Biden with his guest, Holocaust survivor Ruth Cohen of Rockville, Maryland.

The Congressional Black Caucus initially invited the family of Tyre Nichols — the Memphis, Tennessee, man who died after being attacked by police last month — and the White House announced that Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, and stepfather, Rodney Wells, will sit in the first lady’s box.

Also in the first lady’s box will be Brandon Tsay of San Marino, California, who disarmed the shooter in the Monterey Park, California, shooting; former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, who was attacked by an intruder last fall; U2’s Bono for his work fighting HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty; and Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says he invited former NBA player Enes Freedom as his guest.

Freedom, an outspoken critic of China’s reported abuse of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, has met with House GOP several times this year. He wrote in a tweet that he was “deeply honored and humbled to attend the State of the Union address” and appreciates McCarthy’s “friendship, leadership and support.”

-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson and Lauren Peller

Feb 07, 6:30 PM EST
Biden to say America’s democracy is ‘bruised’ but remains ‘unbroken’

In his speech tonight, President Biden will speak about the state of American democracy as he addresses Congress and the nation.

“The story of America is a story of progress and resilience … We are the only country that has emerged from every crisis stronger than when we entered it. That is what we are doing again,” Biden is expected to say, according to excerpts of his prepared speech released by the White House, as has become a tradition.

Biden will specifically tout his administration’s response to the economic crisis, COVID-19 and attacks on democracy.

“Two years ago our economy was reeling,” he’s expected to say in the address. “As I stand here tonight, we have created a record 12 million new jobs — more jobs created in two years than any president has ever created in four years. Two years ago, COVID had shut down our businesses, closed our schools, and robbed us of so much. Today, COVID no longer controls our lives.”

“And two years ago, our democracy faced its greatest threat since the Civil War. Today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken.”

Feb 07, 6:21 PM EST
Schumer and Jeffries: Expect Biden to draw contrasts with GOP

Ahead of the president’s State of the Union address, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said that Biden should not only tout what he’s done for the American people but also draw a contrast with the GOP alternative during his later remarks.

While meeting with a small group of reporters, the Brooklyn Democrats noted that even as Biden faces headwinds in the polls, he would do well in highlighting the legislative wins their party have secured for average Americans while drawing a clear contrast between Democrats who they said are “unified with a sense of purpose” and what they called “the chaos and dysfunction and extremism” in the Republican Party.

When asked by ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott about a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showing 41% of Americans believe they are not as well off since Biden took office, Schumer argued Democrats don’t need a reset.

“You know, it’s not going to be you know, a huge campaign rally speech,” Schumer said, before pushing back on poll numbers. “I don’t think we need a reset. Most of it hasn’t been implemented a lot of it hasn’t even had the regulations implemented at the executive level yet. You know, if it’s a year from now, maybe that’s a valid argument but I don’t think it will be that way a year from now.”

– ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott

Feb 07, 6:05 PM EST
Potential debt ceiling standoff looms large

When Biden delivers his State of the Union address, it will be the first with new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy sitting over his shoulder.

Shaping up to be the first major obstacle that McCarthy and Biden must work together to overcome is how Congress should go about raising the federal borrowing limit, which the Treasury Department has indicated will need to be done as soon as June to make sure none of the federal government’s bills go unpaid.

The conflict, along with the potentially calamitous economic consequences of a debt default, will no doubt color some of Biden’s remarks as he looks to reassure the 53% of Americans who are “very” concerned about that outcome, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Biden and McCarthy say they agree that the nation cannot default on its debt, but with the Treasury already using “extraordinary measures” to keep the nation out of the red, that’s about all they agree on.

The speaker looked to preempt Biden’s State of the Union speech in remarks Monday night in which he outlined what he saw as the major risks the nation faces by failing to cut spending. McCarthy described the $31.4 trillion national debt as the “greatest threat to our future.”

The Biden administration, meanwhile, maintains that the debt limit must be raised without any political negotiation or bargaining, as has been done under both parties over many years.

-ABC News’ Allison Pecorin

Feb 07, 6:01 PM EST
The State of the Union doesn’t usually affect the president’s approval rating

Biden and Democrats might be hoping that Tuesday night’s State of the Union address will give him a political boost, but history shows that’s unlikely to be the case.

When we compare Gallup polls taken just before State of the Union addresses since 1978 to Gallup polls taken just after them, we see that the president’s approval rating typically doesn’t move very much.

On average, a president’s approval rating shifts by just 2.6 points after State of the Union addresses. But that shift is just as likely to be negative as it is positive. As a result, the average president has gotten just 0.4 points more popular after the State of the Union.

While a few presidents, such as Bill Clinton in 1998, have emerged from the speech in a significantly improved position, they are the exception, not the rule. And those changes may not even be attributable to the State of the Union; for example, then-President Donald Trump’s approval rating rose 6 points after his 2019 address — but the 2018-19 government shutdown came to an end just a few days before his speech.

-FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich

Feb 07, 5:59 PM EST
Congressional Black Caucus, other Democrats to wear pins advocating policing reform

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other Democrats will wear black pins tonight to highlight policing reform, an issue that has stalled on Capitol Hill but for which there have been renewed calls in the wake of Tyre Nichols’ beating and death.

The round, black pins members are wearing have the year “1870” bolded in white. The year, they say, refers to the first known instance of an unjustified police officer killing of a Black person in the U.S, according to lawmakers.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., was passing out the pins along earlier with a card noting police killed Henry Truman in 1870.

“153 years later, nothing has changed,” the card said.

Meanwhile, some Republican members have been wearing lapel pins resembling AR-15 rifles in recent weeks, distributed by Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ariz.

Biden is expected to address policing reform in his State of the Union address and has invited Nichols’ parents to attend as his guests.

-ABC News’ Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott

Feb 07, 5:52 PM EST
What Biden promised in last year’s State of the Union: Report card

Biden will deliver his second State of the Union in a matter of hours, raising the question: What did he promise last year, and was he able to achieve what he laid out?

Among the top priorities he outlined last March were rallying American support for Ukraine in its effort to repel the Russian invasion and efforts to fight record-setting inflation. He said the State of the Union was strong “because you, the American people, are strong.”

Yet, a new ABC News/Washington Post shows just 36% of Americans think Biden has accomplished a great deal or good amount as president; 62% say he’s accomplished not very much or nothing at all.

And with Biden appearing poised to run for a second term — and looking to use this year’s speech to make his case — nearly six in 10 Democratic-aligned adults don’t want to see him nominated again — and his approval rating after two years in office is well below average compared with the previous 13 presidents. Only one, former President Donald Trump, has lower numbers.

Here are highlights of what Biden said last year and how things turned out.

Feb 07, 5:29 PM EST
McConnell blasts Biden ahead of address

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed Joe Biden for what he called the nation’s economic woes under two years of Democratic control — just hours ahead of the president’s State of the Union address.

The Kentucky Republican appeared to rely heavily on new ABC News/Washington Post polling — while not citing the data directly — in remarks on the Senate floor, claiming Biden has created an America in which only 16% of citizens feel they are in a better financial situation than they were in two years ago.

“For 84 percent of Americans, one party Democratic control of Washington either failed to live up to its consequences or actively made life worse,” McConnell said.

McConnell hit Biden on inflation, immigration, the Afghanistan withdrawal, school choice, and more in the lead up to Biden’s speech tonight.

He also criticized the administration for its handling of the Chinese spy balloon, arguing that it was “ludicrous to suggest that Canada and the United States had no choice but to let this thing traipse across the continent from coast to coast. “

–ABC News’ Allie Pecorin

Feb 07, 4:43 PM EST
McCarthy sees no need for fencing reinstalled around Capitol

Speaking earlier Tuesday with reporters, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy signaled that there were no security threats ahead of the State of the Union to justify the fencing put up around the Capitol as it was after Jan. 6, 2021

“I don’t think you need it,” McCarthy said when asked about the high, non-scalable fence installed in recent days. “There’s no intel that there’s any problem, any groups, or anything else,” he added.

McCarthy said that while the House Sergeant at Arms did not see a need for the fencing, the Secret Service, the Senate Sergeant at Arms, and the Architect of the Capitol did.

“They’ll pay for it — take it up, take it down,” he said. “I just don’t think it’s the right look. There’s not a need.”

The speaker’s comments follow House Republicans moving to open the House side of the Capitol to visitors and to remove magnetometers, among other changes, after taking the majority in January.

-ABC News’ Gabe Ferris

Feb 07, 4:34 PM EST
Where Biden’s approval rating stands before he addresses the country

Biden is expected to announce within months that he is seeking reelection in 2024, a source previously told ABC News.

As he prepares his next move, FiveThirtyEight’s polling average shows that his approval numbers are slowly ticking up from where they were last fall. On Feb. 7, Biden hit a 43% approval rating in FiveThirtyEight’s average — an increase of 2 points since Nov. 8, the day of the 2022 midterm elections.

This might not seem like a huge increase in the grand scheme of things, but in the current age of strong partisan polarization, any upward trajectory is likely encouraging for Biden ahead of him officially announcing another run.

On the other hand, polling does show that Biden enjoys relatively mild support for another campaign from inside his own party, with only 58% of Democratic primary or caucus voters saying they want Biden to be their nominee in 2024, according to an Emerson College poll released in late January, while 42% said it should be someone else.

That 58% is a 6-point drop from when Emerson asked Democrats the same question in June. But Biden has stronger support among some key demographic groups: According to the poll, 75% of Black Democratic voters and 72% of Hispanic Democratic voters want Biden to be their standard-bearer. White Democrats are more divided, with 51% saying someone besides Biden should be the nominee.

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll found similar concerns among Democrats about Biden being renominated in 2024.

-FiveThirtyEight’s Alex Samuels

Feb 07, 4:22 PM EST
Sarah Huckabee Sanders to cast Biden as unfit in GOP response, her team says

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will cast Biden as an unfit commander in chief when she delivers the Republican response to his State of the Union address, her team said Tuesday.

Sanders, 40, currently the youngest governor in the country, is expected to talk about a new generation of leadership as she follows an address from the oldest sitting president in American history.

She is expected to say that the choice is no longer between right or left — the choice is between normal or crazy. She is expected to accuse Biden of not defending American borders, skies and people, according to her team.

-ABC News’ John Santucci

Feb 07, 4:00 PM EST
‘Finish the job,’ Biden expected to say

“Finish the job” will be a common refrain in the president’s State of the Union address, according to a White House official.

“This evening during the State of the Union, President Biden will speak directly to the American people and outline the historic progress we have made over the past two years and his agenda for the future,” the official said. “President Biden ran for office for three main reasons: to rebuild the backbone of the country, to unite the country and to restore the soul of the nation. In the State of the Union, he’ll say that we need to finish the job.”

This theme also plays into the groundwork that Biden is laying for a reelection bid.

Biden is also expected to specifically highlight the heroism of Brandon Tsay, who disarmed the Monterey Park shooter, and reference the parents of Tyre Nichols in the audience, as he calls for gun and policing reforms.

-ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Mary Bruce and Molly Nagle

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