During tonight’s State of the Union address, President Donald Trump will be sharing his plan for the coming year and his hope for working together with Democrats on some of his goals for the country. He’ll likely also be talking about immigration, the wall he wants to build, and the looming second government shutdown. While you’re watching the State of the Union tonight, you may be wondering one question in particular: Who’s sitting behind Trump while he’s speaking to Congress and the nation?
Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi are sitting behind Trump during his State of the Union speech tonight. Although there’s no rule requiring that this happens, this is the tradition for every State of the Union speech. The top leaders of the Senate and the House always sit behind the President while he gives his State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress. The Vice President is the top leader of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House is the top leader for the House.
Many people are interested in watching Nancy Pelosi’s expressions during Trump’s address. She’ll likely be professional and not show her emotions very much, but it will be interesting since she and Trump had their own quarrel before the SOTU. Pelosi had told Trump that she would not invite him to the State of the Union while the government was shut down. In response, Trump canceled one of Pelosi’s trips, citing the government shutdown. He ultimately agreed to her request, and then briefly brokered a deal to end the shutdown for three weeks. Unless things change, however, the shutdown will resume soon.
Other things you might want to watch for during the speech include the special guests that Democrats and Republicans bring. You’ll want to watch to see if Trump goes off-script (and maybe count how many times he says “fake news.”) You’ll also want to keep an eye out for protests during the SOTU. Will anyone shout something out to Trump while he’s speaking?
Also, you’ll want to watch the response speeches after the State of the Union. After Trump speaks, Stacey Abrams will deliver the Democrats’ official response to the State of the Union. Sen. Bernie Sanders will also deliver a response to the State of the Union via social media after Abrams’ speech is finished. And Xavier Becerra, California Attorney General, will deliver the Spanish-language response to Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. Becerra was invited by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to give an official Democratic response in Spanish.