Biden’s State of the Union: Navigating Disruption to Unite a Divided Congress

On Tuesday night, President Joe Biden delivered his second State of the Union address, an occasion that saw Republican heckling and jeering, yet Biden still managed to make the most of the disruption.[0] The President accused “some” Republicans of plotting to sunset Social Security and Medicare, and used the Republican hubbub to recast their protests as a sign of submission.[0] Biden joked that he welcomed all converts, and even House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who maintained a disciplined frown for most of the speech, couldn’t resist applauding and standing when the subject-matter required it.[1]

Biden also made a point of discussing the United States’ relationship with China, pledging that the U.S. will take necessary steps to defend itself, but he also said he has “made clear with President Xi that we seek competition, not conflict.”[2] He also boasted about record job creation of 12 million new jobs since he entered the White House, and the lowest unemployment rate since 1969.[3] But the job growth was fueled by a post-pandemic recovery that started under his predecessor, and his comparison doesn’t account for population growth.[4]

The president also highlighted the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed last year and caps seniors’ insulin costs at $35 for a month’s supply starting this year.[5] Biden had wanted the cap to go beyond Medicare to also apply to people with private insurance, but Senate Republicans had used a parliamentary rule to strip that provision out of the bill.[3]

In terms of his overall message, Biden strived to find a plank of bipartisan support in a split Congress, with health care priorities holding up the frame. He sought to connect with Americans by addressing various issues impacting the middle class and called attention to police reform, veterans, and infrastructure.[6] Following his address, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivered the GOP rebuttal, drawing sharp contrasts with Biden and his policies.[6]

Overall, Biden’s speech was a masterclass in how to make the most of a difficult situation. Despite the heckling and jeering, Biden managed to keep the focus on his message of unity and bipartisanship, and highlighted the issues that matter to Americans.

0. “Republicans Turn Themselves into Props for Biden” POLITICO, 8 Feb. 2023,

1. “Biden Springs Trap for Republicans in State of the Union” New York Magazine, 8 Feb. 2023,

2. “Biden delivers strong State of the Union speech to boost chances of 2024 re-run – live” The Guardian US, 8 Feb. 2023,

3. “Fact check State of the Union: Biden 2023 speech on economy, COVID-19” USA TODAY, 8 Feb. 2023,

4. “FactChecking the State of the Union”, 8 Feb. 2023,

5. “In State of the Union, Biden pitches opportunities for bipartisanship” STAT, 8 Feb. 2023,

6. “5 things to know for Feb. 8: Biden, Earthquake, Spy balloon, Title 42, LeBron James” CNN, 8 Feb. 2023,