The Constitution Is Clear - An Annual Formal Address To the Nation is Not Required

The State of the Union - Illustration - Concept.A rumor has been making the rounds for the past couple of months.

The rumor is that President Biden has violated some kind of a rule by not giving a State of the Union address this year.

In fact, somebody online stated that the deadline for Biden to formally address the nation was February 20th.


So what does the Constitution say about an annual State of the Union?

The Constitution is quite clear - there is no annual requirement for the President to address the nation.

Instead, the Constitution (Article II, Section 3) says this:

"He 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 first ever annual message was delivered by George Washington on January 8th, 1790 in front of a joint session of Congress.

Over the years, the delivering of the annual message changed - some Presidents chose to submit a written message, some President chose not to deliver a message at all, some Presidents preferred to address the nation and did so punctually every year.

Over recent decades, US Presidents have addressed the nation in January or February.

It should be noted, however, that newly inaugurated Presidents usually deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress in the February after they are inaugurated, though this is not known as the "State of the Union."

This is likely where the confusion came in. President Biden was under no deadline to address the nation - instead, this is usually when the speech to the joint session of Congress is delivered by a newly inaugurated President.


In short - the Constitution does not set a specific time when the President must address a joint session of Congress, or give a "State of the Union".

Filed under: General Knowledge

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