Biden set to deliver State of the Union speech on March 7

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Washington, January 7 (IANS) US President Joe Biden is set to deliver his annual State of the Union speech to Congress on March 7, as House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) scheduled it by his invitation to the President on Saturday.

It will also be the first address by Johnson as Speaker, who traditionally sits behind the President alongside the Vice President during the speech. The union address is also scheduled amid a slate of key dates for the 2024 primaries, coming just two days after Super Tuesday, the day that the greatest number of states hold their primary elections at once, media reports said.

In the invite to the President, Johnson wrote: "In this moment of great challenge for our country, it is my solemn duty to extend this invitation for you to address a Joint Session of Congress on Thursday, March 7, 2024, so that you may fulfil your obligation under the US Constitution to report on the state of our union."

President Biden accepted the invitation on Saturday afternoon, saying simply in a statement: "Looking forward to it, Mr. Speaker."

The speech will give Biden an opportunity to address the closely divided Congress on a number of issues providing an overview on his vision for the country as he seeks re-election in November.

In his last address, the President vowed to "finish the job" on several aspects of his agenda, including issues such as climate change, prescription drug costs, and taxes. His biggest milestone is the Inflation Reduction act which encompasses a whole set of issues from health care to climate control.

Biden will run up against much ire against his address by many lawmakers who have debunked his job performance, including some House Democrats who have publicly decried the president's approval to continue sending military assistance to Israel amid its war with Hamas. Voters especially among the youth in Black and Hispanic communities in traditional democratic voter bases have openly criticised Biden for not halting the war and saving the lives of what they called innocent civilians in Gaza. They have told poll surveys they might flip the vote to a 3rd party candidate.

The address is also scheduled to come just weeks after a pair of key deadlines for Congress to keep the government funded, a task that already was twice punted last year, media reports said.

The first batch of appropriations bills expires on January 19, and Congress must pass its Agriculture, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development, and Energy and Water bills before the deadline to keep the government open.

The closure for the remaining appropriations bills is on February 2.