Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova will join as a guest of first lady Jill Biden
U.S. first lady Jill Biden applauds her guest Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova in the first lady’s box as President Joe Biden welcomes Markarova during his State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the House of Representatives Chamber at the Capitol in Washington, U.S. March 1, 2022.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova, will attend the State of the Union for a second time as a guest of first lady Jill Biden.
Markarova joined the first lady in her viewing box last year and received a standing ovation after President Joe Biden called for a show of solidarity with Ukraine.
Markarova, who is Ukraine’s former Minister of Finance, has served as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s top diplomat in the United States since 2021.
— Amanda Macias
Biden to take aim a tech companies over privacy concerns
Twitter account of U.S. President Joe Biden is seen on a smartphone and a pc screen in the background.
Pavlo Gonchar | Getty Images
President Joe Biden will take aim at tech companies in his address tonight, calling for bipartisan support to ban targeted online advertising for America’s youth and demanding transparency about how tech companies collect Americans’ personal data, the White House said.
He will also argue it is the responsibility of companies, not consumers, to minimize the amount of information they collect.
The White House said social media companies often do not enforce their terms of service with respect to minors. Biden will discuss how his administration plans to build on the surgeon general’s youth mental health advisory, the Department of Health and Human Services’ new Center of Excellence on Social Media and Mental Wellness, and the Children and Media Research Advancement Act.
— Ashley Capoot
Biden ‘s speech will build on ‘Unity Agenda’ with focus on cancer research, vets, seniors, fentanyl
US President Joe Biden speaks at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) 2023 Winter meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 3, 2023.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images
President Joe Biden will lay out an expansion of his “unity agenda,” unveiling new policies aimed at ending cancer, supporting veterans and seniors, tackling mental health issues and cracking down on the opioid crisis, top White House aides said.
In a call previewing his second state of the union address, they touted the progress that the Biden administration has made on those issues since he announced the four-pronged unity agenda last year. Some of those accomplishments include signing into law a veterans’ benefits bill and the establishment of an agency dedicated to researching diseases including cancer.
The White House said Biden will build on the agenda in this year’s address, in part by calling on Congress to take a series of actions, including:
- Reauthorizing the National Cancer Act to update U.S. cancer research efforts
- Working to ban targeted advertising online for children and young people and enact protections for their online privacy and safety
- Imposing stricter limits on targeted advertising and personal data collection by Big Tech companies
- Permanently labeling all “fentanyl related substances” as Schedule 1 drugs — subject to the strictest regulations and penalties — in order to close a “loophole” exploited by drug traffickers
- Pass plans to expand housing access for low-income veterans, to be detailed in Biden’s forthcoming budget proposal
— Kevin Breuninger
U.S. faces threats from Russia, China
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping plan to meet next week in Uzbekistan at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization forum, a Russian official said on Wednesday.
Photo by Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images
Biden takes the podium tonight as Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine enters its second year with tens of thousands of casualties and no end in sight.
While Russia poses an urgent threat to world peace, China presents an even longer and trickier challenge to the United States.
This was compounded by the high-altitude Chinese surveillance balloon that moved over the United States in the last week before it was shot down by the U.S. military.
Biden will address the U.S.-China relationship in the speech, but he will not announce new retaliatory actions against Beijing over the balloon, White House aides told NBC News.
Following Biden’s address, Arkansas Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will deliver the GOP response to the speech. This will be followed by a Republican Spanish-language response, delivered by the newly elected Rep. Juan Ciscomani of Arizona.
— Christina Wilkie
The state of the union is ‘not great,’ GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says
US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks during a press conference in Statuary Hall at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 2, 2023.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
President Joe Biden is expected to lay out a hopeful and optimistic message in his address Tuesday night. But to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., America’s lingering inflation woes paint a more dire picture of the state of the union.
“It’s not great,” McCarthy, the top Republican in Congress, said Tuesday morning on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
“I mean, people are worried. Every breakfast, people used to have eggs and think it was no big deal, just some protein. Now it’s almost a specialty because the price is so high,” McCarthy said.
Americans are “worried about the fuel, they’re worried about their jobs,” he said, “and then when you look at the latest polling, they’re worried about the government.”
McCarthy chalked that trend up to the public perception that politicians are “just bickering back and forth and not solving problems.”
One way to counteract that, he argued, would be for both sides to engage in negotiations on raising the debt ceiling. Biden has taken a hard line against those proposed talks, vowing not to let the threat of a U.S. default be used as a “bargaining chip” for Republicans to try to cut spending.
“We need to do the most basic things. And what is that? Pass a budget,” McCarthy said on CNBC. “Not bickering about a debt ceiling but sitting down like adults and utilizing it to put us on a path to more fiscal responsibility.”
— Kevin Breuninger
Biden approval rating stands at 41% ahead of his address
U.S. President Joe Biden walks on the South Lawn after returning to the White House on Marine One on February 06, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images
Biden delivers his second State of the Union address with a 41% approval rating, higher than his predecessor Donald Trump but below that of the previous four presidents at the same time in office, according to Gallup data.
Trump’s approval rating sunk to 37% in January of his third year in office. At the same point in their terms, former presidents Barack Obama had 49%; George W. Bush 60%; Bill Clinton 47%; and George H.W. Bush 75% at the beginning of the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
The average for a president at this point in office is 54% approval, according to Gallup historic data. Biden’s highest approval rating was 57% shortly after he took office and again in April of his first year.
— Emma Kinery
McCarthy gives a formal defense of GOP stance on debt ceiling
Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy gave a formal speech Monday night on the debt ceiling, but one that echoed the style of a presidential State of the Union address.
“Good evening. I’m Kevin McCarthy. I have the honor of serving as the Speaker of the House. Tonight, however, I stand before you not only as the Speaker, I speak to you as a father,” McCarthy said at a lectern before a formal backdrop of American flags.
McCarthy defended House Republicans’ longstanding refusal to pass a debt ceiling increase the House unless they secure major federal spending cuts in return.
The Republican leader did not break any new ground in his remarks, but the prose and the pomp of the televised address were unmistakable.
Biden and McCarthy are currently engaged in the early phases of what is expected to be a months long negotiation on the debt ceiling vote.
— Christina Wilkie