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Explained: What is State of the Union address?

The President’s SOTU Address is coming in the middle of his impeachment trial in the Senate. He will be speaking in the House of Representatives, the same chamber in which he was impeached for high crimes and misdemeanour less than two months ago.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: February 5, 2020 9:34:32 am
President Trump delivering the 2019 state of the union address on February 5 last year. (AP Photo)

At 9 pm ET on Tuesday — 7.30 am in India on Wednesday — President Donald Trump will begin the annual State of the Union (SOTU) Address to a Joint Session of the US Congress in Washington DC.

Read highlights of Donald Trump’s SOTU address 2020

CONTEXT: The President’s SOTU Address is coming in the middle of his impeachment trial in the Senate. He will be speaking in the House of Representatives, the same chamber in which he was impeached for high crimes and misdemeanour less than two months ago. The House impeachment managers have argued that he has corrupted the institution of the presidency, and American interests would be at risk unless the Senate removes him from office. But there is virtually no chance of that happening — and Trump will use his Address to set the terms for the remainder of his term, and to possibly directly address his political showdown with the Democrats.

This will be Trump’s third SOTU address and fourth speech to a joint session of Congress in the House chamber.

ORIGINS: The SOTU address is the American President’s annual report to the people, and fulfils his constitutional obligation to give to Congress “from time to time… information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient”. (Art. II, Section 3, Clause 1)

From 1790, when President George Washington delivered the first of these messages, to 1946, the address was formally known as the Annual Message. Between 1942 and 1946, it was informally called the “state of the Union” message/address; since 1947, when President Harry S Truman gave his message to Congress (January 6), it has been officially known as the State of the Union Address.

Explained: What is State of the Union address? President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (AP Photo: Susan Walsh)

WHERE, WHEN: Modern SOTU addresses have been delivered in the House Chamber. Prior to the move of the Capitol to Washington, DC, the Annual Message was often delivered in the Senate Chamber. A House concurrent resolution sets aside the day and time for a Joint Session to receive the communication. Until 1934, the Annual Message was delivered every December; since then, the Annual Message/SOTU has been delivered every January or February.

Trump’s Address on Wednesday will be the 97th in-person Address/Annual Message in United States history.

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