Who Is Sitting Behind Biden During His State of the Union Speech?

President Biden SOTU

Getty President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress in 2021.

During President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech tonight, he will be addressing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and also speaking to domestic issues affecting Americans at home. While you’re watching his SOTU 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

Just as they did during his speech to a joint session of Congress last year, Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi are sitting behind Biden during his 2022 State of the Union speech tonight. They will be the ones that you see seated behind Biden on TV or via live stream online as he addresses the nation.

There is no official rule that requires seating be done in this way, but this arrangement is the tradition for every State of the Union speech or a President’s joint address to Congress. The top leaders of the Senate and the House always sit behind the President while he gives his speech. The Vice President is the top leader of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House is the top leader for the House.

In Previous Years, Pelosi’s Expressions & Actions During the State of the Union Went Viral

In previous years, especially when former President Donald Trump was giving the State of the Union speeches, Pelosi’s expressions and actions during his speech went viral on social media. This wasn’t the case when Biden gave his joint address to Congress last year, however. Last year, people spent a lot of time comparing Pelosi’s actions during Biden’s speech to her actions during Trump’s, however.

In 2019, Pelosi went viral when she sarcastically clapped at Trump while he was talking. Here’s a photo of what she did in 2019.


In 2019, Trump’s speech had been delayed due to a government shutdown, although it still took place earlier than Biden’s is taking place this year.

But in 2020, she caught even more attention. First, it appeared that Trump wouldn’t shake her hand when she offered it to him. It wasn’t clear, however, if he didn’t see her offer her hand or if he purposefully ignored it.

But then when Trump’s speech ended, she tore her copy of Trump’s speech in half while sitting behind him.


After Biden’s speech concludes tonight, the Republicans will give their response in a speech delivered by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. Although there’s not a specific time that her 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 hers will likely begin sometime between 10 and 10:30 p.m. Eastern.

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, just like they did last year. Last year Rep. Jamaal Bowman spoke, and this year it will be Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

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