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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that President Biden’s first joint address to Congress is contingent on coronavirus capacity concerns at the Capitol.
Presidents traditionally give a speech in the crowded House chamber during their first year in office — often in February. An address to a joint session of Congress is like a State of the Union, though it is not called that until the president’s second year in office.
But so far, neither the White House nor Pelosi has announced plans for Biden to give the address despite signaling he would do so after the passage of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which he signed into law on March 11.
Wehn asked about the timing Thursday during her weekly press conference, Pelosi said “of course” she’d be inviting Biden to speak “soon” before Congress, but said, “part of the decision in that regard is in the hands of the capital physician, as well as the Sergeants at Arms.”
Pelosi noted this would be the first joint address to Congress since coronavirus because former President Donald Trump’s last State of the Union was in February before the pandemic hit. (Pelosi also brought up her 2020 post-speech theatric gesture, reminding reporters it was “when I tore up the speech — the pack of lies.”)
This time around, Pelosi said there are concerns about having a safe capacity at the Capitol and that may be dependent on how many lawmakers are vaccinated.
“Whatever the number, we’ll be ready whenever the president is ready to come,” Pelosi said Thursday.
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Presidents, during their first congressional address, tend to establish the tone of their new administration, with optimistic language to look ahead and set their legislative agenda, as well as outline their positions on a range of policy issues.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.
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