President Biden is set to give his first State of the Union address on March 1 in a joint session of Congress after receiving his formal invitation from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi delivered her invitation to Biden in letter on Friday. In the letter, she thanked him for his “bold vision and patriotic leadership,” crediting him for guiding the nation “out of crisis and into an era of great progress.”
“In that spirit, I am writing to invite you to address a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, March 1, to share your vision of the State of the Union,” the invitation read.
The annual State of the Union address fulfills an obligation outlined in Article II, Section 3 of the US Constitution. The article states that the president “shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
The tradition of the State of the Union address dates back to the first official presidential administration of George Washington. The first State of the Union address was given in January 1790.
Thomas Jefferson temporarily discontinued the practice during his tenure as president. He compared the address to Britain’s annual Speech from the Throne, a tradition the revolutionist refused to carry over from the monarchy after fighting for freedom from Britain.
Former president Woodrow Wilson restored the annual tradition in 1933. Every president has fulfilled the tradition with one exception. In 1981 former president Jimmy Carter sent Congress a written message at the end of his administration.
The president must be invited to speak as part of the rules of order in the legislative branch of the US Government.