Talk about must-see TV.
President Joe Biden marks the middle of his first term on Tuesday with his second State of the Union address — and there’s plenty of reasons for political junkies and Americans fed up with politics, alike, to tune in to hear what he says.
The economy — especially record inflation, layoffs and the wild housing market — have been on many people’s minds. And Biden is expected to address recession worries and the U.S. debt limit.
State of the Union: 5 key challenges for Biden as he delivers his speech
But the president’s speech before both chambers of Congress could also hint at his plans to run for president again in 2024, as well as what his platform will be. And there will be some notable guests in the audience on Tuesday night, too — not to mention a new GOP Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, running the show.
So here’s what you need to know, and what to look for:
What time is the State of the Union address 2023?
The State of the Union should start around 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Feb. 7, and will be followed by a response from the Republican Party — more on that below!
Where can you watch the State of the Union address?
The major U.S. broadcast television networks and cable news networks will most likely be broadcasting the speech live, but the White House will also stream the address at whitehouse.gov and on its official YouTube account.
Biden faces five key challenges during Tuesday night’s speech.
While the State of the Union address is an opportunity for a president to talk up their wins over the previous year, Biden faces several challenges as he faces the joint session of Congress and the American public. There’s the debt-limit standoff, of course, as well as recession fears, and the acts of violence at home (like the death of Tyre Nichols, or the mass shootings in California last month) and abroad (like Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is approaching its one-year anniversary.)
Read more: State of the Union: 5 key challenges for Biden as he delivers his speech
There’s also speculation over whether Biden will address the Justice Department investigation into the classified documents found at his Delaware home and at one of his second office locations.
Tyre Nichols’ family has been invited to the State of the Union address.
RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, the mother and stepfather of Nichols, have been invited by Rep. Steven Horsford, the Democrat from Nevada who is also chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. The death of Nichols, a Black man who was severely beaten by a group of Memphis, Tennessee, police officers and died days later, has galvanized the national discourse around police brutality once again. Horsford said that it’s important for Nichols’ parents to hear from the president and their elected representatives in Congress.
Read more: Tyre Nichols’ parents to attend Biden’s State of the Union speech
President Biden recently released a statement saying he was “outraged and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in Tyre Nichols’ death,” and he said that his “heart goes out to Tyre Nichols’ family and to Americans in Memphis and across the country who are grieving this tremendously painful loss.”
The president is expected to address how to approach policing, as well as the ongoing issue of gun violence in America, in the wake of the mass shootings in the Asian-American communities of Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay,, Calif.
Read more: Asian Americans felt cultural pride in Monterey Park. Now they say a mass shooting robbed them of its special place in their heritage.
Trump’s former press secretary will give the Republican response to Biden’s speech.
It’s tradition for a member of the opposition party to respond to the president’s State of the Union address, and this year, the person giving the rebuttal should be a pretty recognizable face for many Americans.
That’s because Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who also served as the White House press secretary under former President Donald Trump, has been tapped to give the response. She’s also the daughter of Republican Mike Huckabee, who was also governor of Arkansas — and for almost a decade.
“I am grateful for this opportunity to address the nation and contrast the GOP’s optimistic vision for the future against the failures of President Biden and the Democrats,” she said in a statement.
Huckabee Sanders will speak shortly after Biden’s speech wraps up.
Expect the unexpected to steal the show
Analysts at the Beacon Policy Advisors note that it can be tricky for a president to sway many hearts and minds during a State of the Union speech, especially in today’s partisan landscape. Typically, those tuning in are those who support the president already.
But there have certainly been statements and moments in past SOTU addresses that resonated for years afterward, such as President George W. Bush calling Iran, Iraq and North Korea the “axis of evil” during his 2002 address, which was shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Or who could forget then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi tearing up a printed copy of then-President Donald Trump’s speech following his 2020 SOTU? And last year, Biden was heckled by GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert during his speech.
So you never know what to expect during a State of the Union address.