During President Joe Biden’s speech to a joint session of Congress, he will be sharing his plan for the coming year and his hope for future reform. Biden’s speech is commonly referred to as the State of the Union, but in a President’s first year it is simply referred to as a speech to a joint session of Congress. While you’re watching the speech tonight, you may be wondering: Who’s sitting behind Biden while he’s speaking?
Vice President Kamala Harris & Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi Are Sitting Behind Biden
Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi are sitting behind Biden during his speech to a joint session of Congress tonight. They will be the ones that you see seated behind Biden on TV or via live stream as he addresses the nation.
Although there’s no rule requiring that seating be done in this way, this is the tradition for every State of the Union speech or joint address to Congress during a President’s first year. The top leaders of the Senate and the House always sit behind the President while he gives his 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 Will Be Watching Pelosi’s Expressions as Compared to Previous Years
One thing that people are expected to be watching for during Biden’s speech is Pelosi’s expressions and comparing them to her actions and expressions during former President Trump’s SOTU speeches in previous years.
In 2019, Pelosi went viral when she sarcastically clapped at Trump while he was talking. Here’s a look at what she did last year.
People were also very interested in what Pelosi was reading in 2019 during Trump’s speech.
And what is she so conspicuously leafing through as the 45th President of the United States is giving his State of the Union?
— Sebastian Gorka DrG (@SebGorka) February 6, 2019
But in 2020, she caught even more attention when she tore Trump’s speech while sitting behind him when the State of the Union message was finished.
Nancy Pelosi after Trump concludes the State of the Union pic.twitter.com/BO1EAq24tI
— Axios (@axios) February 5, 2020
No doubt people will be comparing her actions this year to her actions in previous years.
After the speech is over, people will also be watching for the official GOP response. Sen. Tim Scott will deliver the Republicans’ response to Biden’s speech tonight. Although there’s not a specific time that Scott’s speech will begin, it will start shortly after Biden’s speech finishes. Biden’s speech is slated to begin at 9 p.m. Eastern tonight, so Scott’s will likely begin sometime between 10 and 10:30 p.m. Eastern.
Scott said in a statement: “We face serious challenges on multiple fronts, but I am as confident as I have ever been in the promise and potential of America. I look forward to having an honest conversation with the American people and sharing Republicans’ optimistic vision for expanding opportunity and empowering working families.”
While Bernie Sanders isn’t expected to deliver a response like he did previous years, progressives are delivering a response to Biden’s speech through the Working Families Party, NBC News reported. Rep. Jamaal Bowman will be speaking on behalf of the group after Biden’s response.