Speaker Mike Johnson has invited President Biden to Congress for his annual State of the Union speech — setting a historically late date in the thick of the presidential primary season.
The terse two-sentence note, sent to the White House Saturday, asked Biden to appear before a joint session of Congress on Thursday, March 7.
“In this moment of great challenge for our country, it is my solemn duty to extend this invitation,” Johnson wrote in a letter he posted to X.
The date, which Johnson has the power to set, falls two days after Super Tuesday, when primary voters and caucus-goers in 17 states — including delegate-rich California, Texas, and North Carolina — head to the polls.
Presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt have traditionally given the address in January or February.
Biden’s 2022 speech was delivered on March 1 — previously the latest in modern presidential history.
But as Congress returns from its holiday break this week, both houses remain locked in a budget battle that could trigger a partial government shutdown as early as Jan. 19, with federal funding set to expire completely on Feb. 2.
The House Oversight Committee is also poised to pursue contempt of Congress charges against Biden’s son Hunter for his refusal to testify in a closed-door hearing on his family’s foreign business deals, while the president himself faces an ongoing impeachment inquiry.
The March 7 date sets up a potential showdown for Biden and his Republican opponent at a moment when both parties’ presidential nominations could be all but decided.
The GOP has not yet said who will give the party’s customary response to the president’s speech, as former president Donald Trump maintains a significant polling lead against his Republican opponents.
In 2023, the then-80-year-old Biden drew jeers and congressional catcalls with a flub-filled State of the Union address in which he stumbled over Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s title and forgot the name of the ambassador to Ukraine.